Pierrot Songs (2012)

Composed for the Lunar Ensemble

Pierrot Songs is a setting of three poems from Albert Giraud’s influential Pierrot lunaire: rondels bergamasques: “Décor,” “Pantomime,” and “Cuisine Lyrique” (Nos. 46, 37, and 7 in Giraud’s cycle, respectively). Although the poems are vastly different from one another, I imagined tracing a progression from the surreal pink sunset over Pierrot’s barren world to an empty sky illuminated by a freakishly yellow moon—and in between, a drunken dance-like intermezzo invoking the theatrics of Pierrot and his companions. I made no attempt to emulate the outlandish, extroverted character of Schoenberg’s monumental setting of Giraud’s text; instead I leaned towards a more introspective reading of the text—sensitive, but not uninhibitedly expressive, and conveying irony between the words and music. The result is a set of three very different short pieces, together forming a larger whole.

The cycle was originally titled Between a Pink Sunset and a Yellow Moonrise and composed for the Lunar Ensemble’s Pierrot Centenary Project, which was initiated by Gemma New to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire.

Instrumentation: flute (doubling alto flute), clarinet in B flat (doubling bass clarinet), violin, cello, vibraphone, soprano, piano

Duration: 12 minutes

Premiere: November 11, 2012, Shriver Hall, Baltimore, MD • Lunar Ensemble; Danielle Buonaiuto, soprano; Gemma New, conductor