Eden in Atlantis : soprano with ensemble
by Derek Strahan (1994)
From the CD Eden in Atlantis
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Library shelf no. CD 441 [Available for loan]
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The music employs compound harmonies common to both Richard Strauss and dance music arrangers of the swing era, and these inform the frequent use of dense counterpoint. Lyrics portray a lovers' idyll located on an island mid-Atlantic later known as Atlantis, but earlier as Eden: Stanza 1: "In the fourth cycle of the second moon / which is the closer of the two / when the first moon was in eclipse / my lover joined with me in that protected garden /on the enchanted mountain / which joins our land to the spirit realm above. Stanza 2: "In this wall'd garden / Aromatic blossoms scented the heavy air / mist lay on our nakedness, earth's warmth caressed, enfolded. / Lost in each other we pass'd the night hours in endless embrace." Stanza 3, implies an earlier alignment of the Earth to the Sun prior to the cataclysm that destroyed Eden."At dawn, as we lay in bliss together / beneath the outstretch'd arms of an ancient bo tree / laden with ripe figs / the vast furnace of the Sun rose in the western sea / angry red becoming bronze / Around it the sky darkening to purple / brighten'd from within / finally to glow with the deep turquoise / of its accustomed canopy."
Instrumentation: Soprano, flute (doubling alto flute), piano.
Duration: 25 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional.
Contents note: The work plays continuously through five "parts" that are defined by the lyrics. An abridged version of these is given in the introductory notes. Part 1 sets the scene in a "protected garden on the enchanted mountain" where the lovers meet. Part 2 Describes the empassioned meeting. Part 3 Moves to dawn when the lovers witness the sun rising. Part 4 They dine on figs and move to the cliff edge looking down on a temple built on the shore. Part 5 They witness two collosal serpents in the bay below who "lash their tails and writhe about, their bodies entwined in frolic".
Commission note: Commissioned through Sydney Conservatorium through private donation.
The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Tonal and melodic employing compound harmonies derived from chord structures fusing tonalities and, in part, employing syncopation. Influenced by European composers of the 1930s, film music and jazz.
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