Shadow, Sighs and Songs of Longing [16']
Shadow, Sighs and Songs of Longing was composed at Yaddo during the winter of 1991, inspired by the gloomy beauty of the winter landscape and the tragic family history inscribed there: The Trask family purchased Yaddo in the late 1800’s as a healing summer retreat after the death of their first child. Their surviving young daughter accompanied them to Yaddo and gave it it’s peculiar name, a child’s pronunciation of “shadow.” The darkness of their lives at Yaddo was deepened further by the deaths of that daughter and the two other children born to them there. After all of her four children had died and her husband had met his own grizzly and untimely death in a private railroad car, Kristina Trask bequeathed Yaddo as a working retreat for artists. Shadow, Sighs and Songs of Longing was written in the room to which Mrs. Trask retired for the last years of her sad life, and Shadow, Sighs and Songs of Longing is dedicated to her legacy.
Shadow, Sighs and Songs of Longing a four-movement work for accompanied cello, each movement reflecting differently on what might have been the psychological landscape of Kristina Trask’s memories, apparitions and reflections.
“The work is a musical staging of sorrow. Through a constant transforming and reshaping of a single theme it invites the cello solo and the orchestra to explore four distinct colorings of sorrow. In the third movement it builds to a quite overpowering and wrenching climax. The entire work sustains its ideas with compelling engagement and invention. It is not the 19th century soloist pitted against orchestra-projections of heroic individualism-but rather a concerted shared journey. I am carried back to the singularity of the Elgar concerto, which also explores dark psychological landscapes as a journey shared by cello and orchestra.” —Don Mager, Making Time, Eclectica.org July/Aug 2002