Duration (in minutes): 11'39;
Difficulty: High (professional)
Category: small chamber ensembles - 2 to 4 players, solo voice(s) with chamber ensemble, solo voice(s) with solo instruments
Instruments: any female voice, any medium voice, any voice, any woodwind, clarinet, mezzo soprano, piano
Publisher: Subito Music Corporation
The poem "Mariana" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, describes the suffering of the Shakespearian character Mariana ("Measure for Measure"), whose lover broke off their engagement. For five years she waited for him, hopelessly in love. The seven-verse poem describes her sense of isolation and desperation. The last few lines of each verse repeat the same words with subtle variations. In addition, certain elements of the text reappear in different verses. For example, the first verse speaks of "blackest moss" while the fourth verse refers to "blacken'd waters". The musical structure, which derives from the text, also uses the idea of variation. Rhythmically, this occurs by inserting an occasional measure of 3/8 or 9/8 into the prevailing 6/8 meter (two groups of three) and by changes of accent within the 6/8. Groups of two, established in the instrumental introduction, provide contrast during several of the short interludes connecting verses. This rhythmic contrast merges into the verses to become isolated groups of two within the prevailing three, and then groups of two sounding against the prevailing groups of three. Harmonically, a chord with a prominent tritone is varied during several of the interludes. There are also numerous examples of text painting -- e.g., falling tears, swaying shadows, and a slow clock ticking, among other instances. These recur in variation when the textual imagery repeats.