IN THE SILENCE OF THE NIGHT
When we are lucky enough to fall in love the thought of life without this person pains us. After searching for so long, how could we go on without them? Struck by the intensity of this emotion, Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) penned "Echo". Considered a contemporary rival of Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, scholars say that Christina's poetry displays a simplicity and gift of lyric and tone compared to others of her time.
As the title of the poem indicates, the echo of the work comes at the beginning of the piece - calling out with no response from a love that has left. The canon between the Baritone and Bass initiate and immediately convey the echoing silence after calling out to someone who has left.
The unison lines are used to strengthen and fortify the emotive and yearning of the work, utilizing sevenths as intervals of those emotions. In the "B" section, we depart from our original key as our minds continue to 'obsess' on these thoughts and emotions, which lead to the largest outpouring of sound and emotion in the work (m.49-51). As we regain control of our emotions we return to our original thoughts and desires though we are only left with a distant memory of what once was.
This work is a great tone and phrase study for your Tenor/Bass ensemble. With so many unison lines, it allows the ensemble find a coherent and unified sound while also utilizing large intervals that challenge the equality of tone throughout the entire vocal range. Additionally, the canonic and unison lines lend themselves to great discussions and studies on word stress and phrase structure. I have indicated with tenutos where I would like work stress in certain areas. Please explore other possibilities along with the provided tools.
Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.
Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again tho' cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago.
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Voicing: TBB, piano
Premiered by the Richland HS Varsity Tenor/Bass choir