Broken Charms


Two Elizabethan Lyrics for Unaccompanied Chorus
SATB a cappella
Texts by Samuel Daniel and Thomas Campion
First performance: April 2002 Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon, cond., Los Angeles

Program notes: 

Los Angeles composer Donald Crockett pays homage to the age of the madrigal with his diptych entitled Broken Charms, composed in 2000 for Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.  Subtitled “Two Elizabethan Lyrics for Unaccompanied Chorus,” the work gains inspiration from two period poems about magic.  Care-charmer Sleep, a sonnet by Samuel Daniel, pleads for the spell of ‘sleep’ to keep the speaker away from “day’s disdain.”  The first section, marked “languid and flexible,” sets up a more agitated middle section that paints the poem’s ‘shipwreck’ metaphor with aggressive motives and curt, angular rhythms, before recalling the opening mood.  The second poem in quatrain form, Thrice toss these oaken ashes in the air by Thomas Campion, is a swirl of melodic incantations designed to woo the object of the author’s desire, but to no avail: “In vain are all these charms I can devise.  She hath an art to break them with her eyes.”

                                                                                    - Peter Rutenberg