Appearing with me on the CD for Champs Hill Records is pianist Andrew West (left), a long-time friend and collaborator on various projects.
The Madrigali dell’Estate song-cycle with piano sets a group of eleven poems by the Italian poet, politician and hell-raiser Gabriele d’Annunzio. They are deeply-rooted in the countryside of the Abruzzo region of Italy and blend classical symbolism with carefully-observed landscape detail. The cycle’s subject is the decline of summer into autumn, as experienced in the natural world and by the poet himself. They are a beautiful set of texts, thick with atmosphere.
An Italian theme links all the repertoire on the CD:
Farfalle di Neve, a short piece for mezzo and string trio, features a hybrid text formed from two other poems by D’Annunzio, who was born in the Abruzzo region of Italy, although he left as soon as possible for the glamour and opportunity of Rome.
Stephen’s unaccompanied Abruzzo folksongs are a re-imagining in classical vein of traditional folk dialect texts.
A Voice of One Delight unfolds the story of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s death at sea, in the bay of La Spezia.