Poems of Wallace Stevens I, Op. 9

soprano and seven players (fl (picc), cl (bcl), tpt, vla, vib, cel (pno), hp)
duration 13½'
composed in August - September 1967 (Tanglewood - London)

dedication: to W. L.

published by Novello/Wise Music
(on sale: Cat. No. 89 0089 02)


first performed by Jane Manning, with the Nash Ensemble, conducted by JC, 18 May 1968, Purcell Room (SBC), London.


recorded by Jane Manning, with the Nash Ensemble, conducted by the composer
CD Lyrita LY0305 (2008)
originally release on LP Argo ZRG 747 (1973)

programme note:

In this group of settings I chose to place together three poems which though written at different periods in Stevens's life nevertheless contain elements in common which could be emphasised by their juxtaposition. In the first the observer of a snowscape seems to become what he sees, while in the second a dreamer meets with a Doppelgänger figure in surroundings which are bizarre and terrifying, but also strangely beautiful. In the final setting, these images are combined in the figure of a snowman, almost obscene in his parodistic resemblance to a living being, made in our image, yet made of snow, that is to say, of nothing. The paradox that although made of nothing he is still there allows Stevens a characteristically wry tribute to 'the god of things as they are'.

Justin Connolly


other comments:

Poems set: 'Tattoo', 'Anecdote of the Prince of Peacocks', 'The Snow Man'

Originally composed for soprano and piano as "Poems of Wallace Stevens I". The first orchestrated version is entitled "Poems of Wallace Stevens II" and differs from the final work. Later, the composer evidently suppressed the original and gave the original title to the final orchestration.