Rachael Hutchings

Pianist, Composer

Scores available at Veritas Musica Publishing

Uncoiled Shell: Three Poems by Hart Crane
for tenor voice and piano

In searching for poetry to set, I found the poems of Hart Crane (1899–1932) to be especially expressive and vivid. Each line of text was the biggest determining factor for what happened next in the music. “Exile” was inspired by Brahms’ “Sonntag,” another short, sweet song in F Major and 3/4 time. In “To Emily Dickenson,” I took an operatic approach in order to heighten the layers of expression in this homage from one poet to another. In “Garden Abstract,” I employed stranger pitch collections to express the strange transcendentalism of the text.

I wrote this set with my husband’s tenor voice in mind, hoping to show off the beauty of the voice in an idiomatic way. I envisioned a lyrical, expressive set that could fit seamlessly on any art song recital program containing Schubert, Schumann, or Hugo Wolf songs, extending the art song tradition into the present.

Daniel Hutchings, tenor
Rachael Hutchings, piano

My hands have not touched pleasure since your hands,
No, nor my lips freed laughter since 'farewell',
And with the day, distance again expands
Voiceless between us, as an uncoiled shell.

You who desired—in vain to ask—
Yet fed you hunger like an endless task,
Dared dignify the labor, bless the quest—
Achieved that stillness ultimately best,

Being, of all, least sought for: Emily, hear!
O sweet, dead Silencer, most suddenly clear
When singing that Eternity possessed
And plundered momently in every breast.

The apple on its bough is her desire,
Shining suspension, mimic of the sun.
The bough has caught her breath up, and her voice,
Dumbly articulate in the slant and rise
Of branch on branch above her, blurs her eyes.
She is prisoner of the tree and its green fingers.
And so she comes to dream herself the tree,
The wind possessing her, weaving her young veins,
Holding her to the sky and its quick blue,
Drowning the fever of her hands in sunlight.
She has no memory, nor fear, nor hope
Beyond the grass and shadows at her feet.