Honey and Rue

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Honey and Rue
by André Previn
FormSong cycle
TextToni Morrison
LanguageEnglish
Performed5 January 1992 (1992-01-05): Carnegie Hall, New York City
Published1993 (1993): Chester Music, London
Scoringsoprano and small orchestra

Honey and Rue is a song cycle composed by Oscar and Grammy award winner André Previn and premiered by Kathleen Battle, with words from poems by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison.[1] It is scored for a solo soprano and small orchestra and is influenced by the rhythms of jazz, blues and American spirituals.[2] The New York Times termed the composition "a model of understated luxury, rich and plastic without the need of ornament".[3]

History[edit]

According to The Critical Companion to Toni Morrison, Kathleen Battle had been moved by Morrison's novel The Bluest Eye, and asked Previn and Morrison to create a song cycle for her. The cycle was ultimately commissioned by Carnegie Hall.[2] The lyrics, according to the Chicago Tribune, "move across a specifically black, urban, female landscape of experience".[4]

It was premiered in 1992, sung by Battle in the Carnegie Hall, but most notably remembered as the Boston Symphony's Tanglewood Festival opener, conducted by Seiji Ozawa.[3] This was the first time Morrison had written for an original score.[2] The score was published in 1993 by Chester Music.[5] Battle also performed the work that year at the Ravinia Festival with conductor John Nelson and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.[6]

Battle recorded the cycle with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and Previn conducting, on the Deutsche Grammophon label in 1995, together with Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and George Gershwin's, "I Loves You, Porgy" and "Summertime". In its review of the recording , the Baltimore Sun praised the work as "a wonderful cycle with a splendid text".[7] That same year Battle sang the role with the New York Philharmonic, conductor Leonard Slatkin, and Toni Morrison as orator at Avery Fisher Hall.[8] Battle has also performed the work with other major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen in 1997,[9] the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Gerard Schwarz at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in 2000,[10] and the Detroit Symphony and conductor Thomas Wilkins in 2006.[11]

Soprano Harolyn Blackwell has also performed the work several times with Previn as conductor, including performances with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York (1996),[12] the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (1998),[13] the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo (1999), and the Oslo Philharmonic (2001).[14] Previn led the Oslo Philharmonic in performances of the work again in 2006, this time with soprano Nicole Cabell.[15] More recently, soprano Jeanine De Bique performed the cycle to open the 102nd season of Matinee Musicale in the Anderson Center in Cincinnati in May 2015.[16] Soprano Elizabeth Futral is scheduled to sing the work in August 2015 with the Pacific Symphony.

Cycle[edit]

  1. "First I'll Try Love"
  2. "Whose House Is This"
  3. "The Town Is Lit"
  4. "Do You Know Him"
  5. "I Am Not Seaworthy"
  6. "Take My Mother Home"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Karen F. Stein (2009). Reading, Learning, Teaching Toni Morrison. Peter Lang. pp. 12–. ISBN 978-1-4331-0223-3.
  2. ^ a b c Carmen Gillespie (2007). Critical Companion to Toni Morrison: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. pp. 256–. ISBN 978-1-4381-0857-5.
  3. ^ a b Bernard, Holland. "Review/Music; Kathleen Battle Sings a Custom-Made Cycle". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  4. ^ von Rhein, John. "Battle Serves `Honey And Rue'". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  5. ^ OCLC 30907218
  6. ^ John von Rhein (July 26, 1993). "Something New Under The Stars: Previn's Song Cycle Gets Its Local Debut". Chicago Tribune.
  7. ^ Wigler, Stephen. "Previn and Battle produce treasurable disc Savory: Recording's best part is 'Honey and Rue,' written by Andre Previn for Kathleen Battle". The Baltimore Sun. The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  8. ^ Anthony Tommasini (December 16, 1995). "Music Review: Life After Met Goes On For Battle, Next Door". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Mary Lou Loper (September 7, 1997). "Philharmonic Strikes Up Another Season". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ David Patrick Stearns (July 29, 2000). "Battle Is Triumphant, Bernstein Is Battered The Soprano Was Exquisite In Songs And Spirituals. A "West Side" Medley For Orchestra Was Botched". Philadelphia Media Network.
  11. ^ Ben Mattison (27 February 2006). "Detroit Symphony to Honor Kathleen Battle at Gala". Playbill.
  12. ^ James R. Oestreich (October 19, 1996). "Classical". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Robert Croan. "No Limits: Two Distinctive Singers Who Dare To Cross The Lines of Style". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  14. ^ "Musikalsk vismann". Dagbladet. 30 March 2001.
  15. ^ "Korenes korverk". 20 October 2006.
  16. ^ Gelfand, Janelle. "Soprano soars in André Previn's Honey and Rue". Cincinnati.com. Cincinnati.com. Retrieved 5 May 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fontaine, Jeanette. "He Sang, She Sang: The Gendered Song Cycle." Journal of Singing 70.1 (2013): 97.
  • Gingerich, Katrina. "The Journey of the Song Cycle: From “The Iliad” to “American Idiot." Musical Offerings 1.2 (2010): 3.
  • Baby, Tar, et al. "Works byToni Morrison." Toni Morrison (2010): 307.

External links[edit]