Barber Tango

I was re-listening to Thomas Hampson singing Samuel Barber’s Despite and Still, and realized that the song “Solitary Hotel” is a Barber-ized (but not barbarized) tango — the loping and chromatic triplets are a strange contrast to the text from Ulysses, but they share the same pensive suspension.

Of course, my favorite song is probably “A Green Lowland of Pianos”: (text by Czeslaw Milosz, after the Polish of Jerzy Harasymowicz):

in the evening
as far as the eye can see
herds
of black pianos

up to their knees
in the mire
they listen to the frogs

they gurgle in water
with chords of rapture

they are entranced
by froggish, moonish spontaneity

after the vacation
they cause scandals
in a concert hall
during the artistic milking
suddenly they lie down
like cows

looking with indifference
at the white flowers
of the audience

at the gesticulating
of the ushers

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