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The north wind was a woman

composer

 
I have been lucky enough to spend some time recently collaborating with the writer Aimee Bender. By chance I came across Aimee’s extraordinary collection of short stories ‘Willful Creatures’ and I instantly felt we shared many artistic goals and ideals. Aimee’s stories are often described as ‘modern fairytales’, they have something of the tone of a fairytale (a generalised sense of place and time, a willingness to incorporate the magical or supernatural, and often, a rather savage streak), but are unmistakably modern in tone, and a million miles from the Victorian sensibilities and morals of Hans Andersen or the Brothers Grimm. Aimee creates unique and extraordinary worlds, full of color and magic, tangential to our own, but somehow, in an often witty and understated way, reflecting back on our own world, returning us to it with fresh eyes. It is an approach to art which I find highly invigorating and inspiring.

Aimee showed me the libretto to an opera she had written for the composer John B Hedges and I was captivated as soon as I realized it was the sea itself singing the opening lines—it was saying sorry to all the ships it had to let sink because its shoulders were too heavy and not meant for carrying boats. I loved the idea of an ‘element’ singing, and some time later the idea occurred to me that it could make for an interesting song-cycle to have a series of different elements, each singing in the first person. I approached Alasdair Middleton (the librettist for my opera A bird in your ear) with this idea. Alasdair latched on to the concept immediately—the first poem he produced was Wind who, marvellously, was in unrequited love; followed by a rather melancholy and mysterious Night, and a crazed Moon who ‘wants to kill’. I later added two of my own poems to the collection, a rather bleak Snow that sees itself as ‘frozen tears’, and a Mountain that contemplates its only friendship over the years—with the night sky.

from notes by David Bruce © 2019

Recordings

Bruce: The north wind was a woman & other chamber music
Studio Master: SIGCD599Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Hyperion sampler - September 2019 Vol. 1
FREE DOWNLOADHYP201909ADownload-only sampler

Details

No 1: The snow is completely without hope  Frozen tears are all I weep
author of text

Track 4 on SIGCD599 [4'25] Download only
Track 6 on HYP201909A [4'25] Download-only sampler
No 2: The north wind is a woman  I still love you
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Track 5 on SIGCD599 [3'43] Download only
No 3: The night wants you to forget  Past the sunset’s flaming wreckage
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Track 6 on SIGCD599 [5'05] Download only
No 4: The crescent moon is a dangerous lunatic  I am the moon
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Track 7 on SIGCD599 [3'10] Download only
No 5: The mountain shares her solitary dreams  My only friend through all the years
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Track 8 on SIGCD599 [5'31] Download only

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