Sounds of the Nightingale (Fine, Vivian)
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Vivian Fine Estate
|Work Title||Sounds of the Nightingale|
|Year/Date of Composition||1971|
|First Performance||1971-05-19, Bennington College, Valerie Lamoree, soprano, Bennington choral and instrumental ensembles, Vivian Fine, conductor|
|Librettist||John Keats and Vivian Fine|
|Language||English and birdsong|
|Average Duration||13 3/4 minutes|
|Instrumentation||Soprano, female chorus, flute, alto flute, oboe doubling on English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, French horn, two violins, two violas, piano, percussion (tuned tom-toms, woodblocks, susp. cymbal, and tissue paper)|
Sounds of the Nightingale… is a further step in [Fine’s] expansion of timbre and texture. The piece consists of independent layers of birdsong as portrayed by an ensemble of flute, alto flute, oboe doubling on English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, French horn, piano, percussion (tuned tom-toms, woodblocks, suspended cymbal and tissue paper), two violins, two violas, soprano, and the female chorus. Each birdsong is scored meticulously, with appropriate attacks, dynamic changes, and other nuances, to recreate the sounds she wanted. Differing simultaneous tempi, such as the quarter-note = 66 for the soprano, 54 for the choral group and piano, 80 for the English horn and strings, and 60 for the French horn, create the layering and independence of materials she desired. Strategic entrances are cued by the conductor, and, at times, entrances are numbered in thick textures to ensure the kinds of timbre and tenure mixtures she wanted. Although the birdsongs are not labeled, Fine’s meticulousness resembles that of Messiaen’s in scoring birdsong. Nothing is left to chance, and Fine knew exactly what she wanted to hear in her piece.
- —Heidi Von Gunden, The Music of Vivian Fine, Scarecrow Press, 1999