The seventeen poems selected for this work span many centuries and languages and
give very varied views on the subject of love.
There is a mixture of solos and duets which also gives variety. Also there is a
difference in the characterization of the two singers; the tenor is more romantic,
and the baritone more realistic and cynical. In the penultimate poem by Tyutchev,
this split is emphasized in the words О ты, последняя любовь! / Tы и
блаженство и Безнадежность. (O love of my last years you are both rapture and
desperation). However both singers recognize the power of love.
The work should be sung without a break between the songs, and indeed several of
the poems overlap. To emphasize the continuity there are several recurring musical
motives: in particular the theme associated with the words from the Shakespeare
poem in Twelfth Night “What is love?”
Hopefully the songs can be sung in the original languages (except for the poem from
the Haida) however “singable” translations have been provided.
I want to thank the many friends and colleagues who offered much appreciated
advice on fully understanding the poems and thus their translations: Henry
Garrity, Lilian Groag, Gustavo Lopez Manzitti, Veronica Mitina, Alma Mora,
Milen Nachev, Rick Prins, Vic and Laura Sonnino and especially to Frank Dwyer,
who suggested the title of the work.