Programme Notes: Vocal Solos and Song Cycles

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Vocal Solo with instrumental accompaniment

Vocal Solo with instrumental accompaniment

DREAM-LAND Opus 42 (1988) 

Duration 20 minutes

This setting of the poem by Edgar Allen Poe was originally composed for soprano voice, soprano saxophone and piano. The soprano saxophone part has been substituted on numerous occasions by clarinet in Bb or violin.

Dream-Land is a very atmospheric work, in which the voice, the saxophone (clarinet or violin) and the piano each add their own dimensions to the moods expressed by the poem on its journey through a night of dreams.
The piano part is characterised by dreamy ostinato passages, percussive and urgent sections or by warm comforting chords.  The soprano is the traveller through the dream, who experiences stark, nightmarish moments, ghosts from the past, nature at its most haunting and glimpses of heaven.  The saxophone (clarinet or violin) further expresses the feelings conveyed by the words, harking back to experiences just gone by, translating the emotions into pure musical form and then leading to the next mood.
The first and last verses have virtually the same words.  At the beginning the setting is abstract and conveys fear of the unknown.  The ending brings comfort and the understanding which the mind experiences when rationalising the turmoil of the night.

‘The most striking examples of otherworldliness were in Andrew Downes’ Dream-Land (US premier), sung by Deborah Saverance with Paul Cohen on saxophone and David Maiullo on piano, and Leonard Bernstein’s Israfel… These two pieces, in their emotionally astute and beautifully sung arrangements, took Poe’s words far into the realm of the spirit.’                                                                                                                                                                         PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY JOURNAL, FALL 2003 (Volume IV, no 2)
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