2 Neruda Poems (Fine, Vivian)




MP3 file (audio)
rhymes&chymes (2012/2/27)

MP3 file (audio)
rhymes&chymes (2012/2/27)

Performer Pages Vivian Fine (piano)
Performers Stephanie Friedman, mezzo-soprano
Publisher Info. Vivian Fine Estate
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Sheet Music


PDF typeset by Paul Hawkins
rhymes&chymes (2012/2/27)

Publisher. Info. Vivian Fine Estate
Misc. Notes Request Licenses from ASCAP
Report performances to Vivian Fine Estate
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General Information

Work Title Two Neruda Poems
Alternative. Title
Composer Fine, Vivian
I-Catalogue NumberI-Cat. No. IVF 85
Movements/SectionsMov'ts/Sec's 2 songs
  1. La Tortuga
  2. Oda al Piano
Year/Date of CompositionY/D of Comp. 1971
First Performance. 1971-12-1 at Bennington College, Bennington, Vermont, Jan DeGaetani, soprano and Vivian Fine, piano
Librettist Pablo Neruda
Language Spanish
Average DurationAvg. Duration 12 minutes 45 seconds
Composer Time PeriodComp. Period Modern
Piece Style Modern
Instrumentation Mezzo-soprano and piano
External Links Vivian Fine website

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The Neruda songs made a delicious pair, ‘La tortuga’ crawling along in hushed beauty and ‘Oda al piano’ closing the concert with a witty microdrama.

—Donal Henahan, The New York Times, April 17, 1973

The two songs formed a stark contrast. ‘The Turtle’ is a gravely contemplative work, rich in magical stillness—and curiously tragic. But the second song, ‘Ode to the Piano,’ is a wild burlesque-illustration of the poem’s inside jokes. (Neruda pictures the piano as a ‘catafalque,’ with its teeth on the wrong side of its mouth—a mouth with ‘the jaws of leviathan.’) During all this, the piano soars and glides along, sometimes quoting bits of Romantic repertory—a snippet of Chopin Etude, for instance—practically ignoring the singer. As the ode concluded, [the singer] turned, lowered the open top; turned around, took the music off and closed the music rack (with Fine still playing), and eventually closed the keyboard lid. In effect, this is a song for piano, accompanied by a singer.

—Heuwell Tircuit, San Francisco Chronicle, January 11, 1983

Best of all, in a way, was the final offering, two Pablo Neruda poems set to music by Vivian Fine. ‘La Tortuga’ was slow, low-placed, imaginative in its sonic pictorialization and beautifully timed and structured to reveal the philosophical implications of a poem describing a tortoise finally transcending his long life and joining ‘the other boulders.’ ‘Oda al piano’ was witty, stylish and dramatic in the playfulness with which both Neruda and Fine describe a surreal piano concert, ending with Friedman putting down her music, closing the piano lid finally closing the keyboard and walking off. Fine’s settings are resourceful but more than merely that, her music is both amusing and very serious, and these songs should enter the active repertory.

—Charles Shere, Oakland Tribune, October 27, 1981