Vous souvenez-vous

Baritone

text by Lloyd Parks
Duration: 5:00
Date of Composition: 1981


PROGRAM NOTES: Vous souvenez-vous is a reflection upon the renowned skepticism of French culture: How can the good God execute all these paradoxical acts as enumerated in the poem?  Not that Lloyd Parks projects a millennial cynicism, but rather he asks the one looming question to which we, here on this earth, contained in our human condition, would much appreciate an answer – even a hint!  We are not now, even after 2,000 years of pleading and praying, likely to receive a response; but eerie silence is, ultimately the foundation of faith.  Thus, Park’s lyric, in asking brave questions, is strangely affirmative.

Here the pleading goes on, just as it went on during the 9th century, expressed in chants and tropes, many of which were written inside a cold and barren scriptorium, with only a cat for company (see Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs).

I composed Vous souvenez-vous in 1981 as a tour de force for baritone:many modern techniques are employed.But style (as is always the case) is at the edge, the breaking point, for both singer and pianist.The song should plead, not implore; hope (espérer), not despair (désespérer).

-James Sellars


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