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Timothy Raymond

Chaos in fourteen lines

Soprano and Piano

Duration, c.20 minutes
Leaflet 1. Counting-out rhyme         (pdf)
Leaflet 2. Time does not bring relief (pdf)
Leaflet 3. Ebb                                 (pdf)
Leaflet 4. Desolation dreamed of      (pdf)
Leaflet 5. Thursday                         (pdf)
Leaflet 6. Some things are dark       (pdf)
Leaflet 7. Chaos in fourteen lines     (pdf)


Cast in two parts, this cycle of seven songs represents a kind of musical portrait of an American poet – much admired by Robert Frost – whose reputation as a master of verse, and of the sonnet in particular, was offset by her adventurous – even notorious – personal life. A ‘Counting-out Rhyme’ (the genre of the children’s ‘One potato, two potato…’ game) opens the sequence and recurs in fragments as a kind of Mussorgskyan link (like the Promenade in Pictures) both between and within a few of the songs. In part, as in some counting-out games, the rhyme might be understood as a metaphor for something of a quasi-fatalistic nature.

Part I explores themes of love, regretting its loss and sometime futility. Part II, opening with the lightest song in the work, rapidly darkens to a nightmarish mood and concludes with the sonnet – fourteen lines – which, paraphrased, gives the work its title. Its succinct expression of the philosophical and technical dilemmas of the poet, as she struggles to put the violent and demonic tyranny of existential Disorder into the Order of the poem, is reminiscent of the age-old conflict of Dionysus and Apollo: the archetype which has underpinned so much artistic endeavour.

Chaos in fourteen lines was commissioned by Canadian pianist, Margaret Bruce.

Raymond
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Chaos in fourteen lines
hh602.fsc · ISMN 979 0 708213 17 8
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