Jonathan David: Azrael (original key)
Amy Bartram, soprano
Trudy Chan, piano
Premiered in the UK on June 30, 2012, Dorchester, England; Julia Simpson, soprano, Richard Hall, piano.
In early 2010 my friend Jay Barksdale mailed me a book. Jay sang for me in my old chamber chorus, Howl!, in which he also sang much of my music. The book was the Collected Poems of Sylvia Townsend Warner. Jay’s accompanying note asked whether I would consider a song commission if I came across a poem I liked. The commission would be in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Sylvia Townsend Warner Society. I had never heard of Warner, an English writer who lived from 1893- 1978. I was quite intrigued with much of her writing, especially her later books of poetry, from which Azrael is taken. It is an intensely melancholy text, full of intimate images of loneliness, resignation, and recognition of mortality. My setting is fairly elaborate, in the continuing variation form I have been drawn to in my recent works.