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The Noon’s Repose, written 1978-79, sets three poems. The first, Eliot’s La figlia che piange, is elaborate enough to be kind of scena, in which the lover broods upon an ambiguously happy encounter that can still trouble his midnight thoughts and his noon’s repose. The 2nd song, much shorter, sets Another Weeping Woman by Wallace Stevens, as if it were the girl’s answer to the wry and half-reluctant man of Eliot’s poem.
The 3rd song is distanced from these painful themes, though still related to them. It is a setting of Marvell’s poem On a Drop of Dew, long enough to be a miniature cantata in 8 sections, closely following every stage of a structure that compares the human soul in its fleshy garment to a drop of dew uneasily poised in a rose and longing to be exhaled up to its native heaven.
This Marvell-setting was written in memory of Benjamin Britten; and is, inevitably, a tribute to his art of song-writing as well as to the vocal style of his great interpreter. Robin Holloway
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