many words of love | 2016

many words of love is a 20-minute, three-part work of orchestra and resonating snare drums.It is the largest piece—both in instrumental forces and duration—in a body of work exploring the intersection of acoustic instruments and filtered electronic resonance (the other pieces are ‘Shade Studies’ and ‘Quartet Movement’). The music is dynamic and pushes certain physical thresholds: where pitches distort, where gestures sink below audibility, and where forms inflate to points of collapse. The harmonic content is loosely based on Der Lindenbaum from Schubert’s Winterreise (D.911), with a particular focus on the melodic fragment found with the words “so manches liebe Wort.”

Instrumentation:

Orchestra made of 2.2.2.2 - 4.2.3.0 - perc(2) - strings

Duration:

20'

Technical Requirements:

• iPad equipped with SAMPL app
• 2 small transducers speaker
• 1 small 2 channel amplifier

Press:

"Samuel Adams’ many words of love, which was performed March 16-21 under CSO music director Riccardo Muti, is virtuosic for the orchestra’s musicians in various delicate ways involving fluttering microtonal intervals, pitchless air sounds, attenuated harmonics, unusual bowing techniques, and minutely precise timbral shifts. These myriad busy, individual gestures are in the service of an overall expressive texture that aims big and moves with slow might. 

For this listener, the experience of many words of love was not unlike focusing on the prolonged rustle of tree leaves or the scraping of insect wings while becoming gradually but increasingly aware of a brooding and formidable surrounding forest. Electronic effects are hushed and minimal but important, best described as enhanced resonances that are activated by a percussionist stroking a snare drum wired for sound. As in Adams’ Drift and Providence, which the young professionals of the Chicago Civic Orchestra performed in December 2016, an imaginative arc suggests the earth breathing or, perhaps, sighing.

The title of Adams’ work refers to a snippet from “Der Lindenbaum,” the fifth song in Schubert’s Winterreise to verses of Wilhelm Müller. In it a young man is haunted by memory as he passes by a linden tree into which he had once carved many words of love (“Ich schnitt in seine Rinde / so manches liebe Wort”), although he refuses even to look.

The startling lamentation that forms the middle third of Adams’ opus does seem freely sparked by these vivid Winterreise materials. The poem also prompted a more contemporary gestural direction from Adams related to the physical act of carving words into a tree – once a romantic custom, perhaps, but now more likely perceived as an act of violence against nature. This left Adams with some interesting ideas to play with: The piece opens with a sforzato shriek, and it pulses with a shimmering array of uneasy life sounds."

Nancy Malitz, Classical Voice America

 

Photo Credit: Deborah O’Grady

Photo Credit: Deborah O’Grady