Op. 29e - city vignettes
for Alto Saxophone and Guitar [or Piano]
III. Rain at Night
Program Notes: The City Vignettes began as a work for the mezzo-soprano and guitar group, the Malkin-Trybek Duo. The arrangement for piano was born out of necessity and practicality, and the cycle was subsequently arranged on request for Flute, Clarinet, Violin and Alto Saxophone. American lyric poet, Sara Teasdale, first published her set of three miniature poems City Vignettes in 1911 in the collection Helen of Troy and Other Poems. Though Teasdale regularly had bouts of depression throughout her life, which ended in suicide, she was the first person, man or woman, to receive the first ever Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1918. The first poem, Dawn, opens with the atmospheric line “The greenish sky glows up in misty reds,” set in the key of a minor, grows to despair and ends in loneliness. A very free and expressive solo begins the second number, Dusk, and continues into a dismal description of the austere city landscape. There is hope, seemingly, as Teasdale writes “A thousand yellow lights begin to gleam and over all the pale untroubled skies,” set to a rhythmic and bouncy accompaniment based on the introductory material. A distinctly metered pedal point is employed at the onset of the third stanza, Rain at Night, depicting the steady precipitation. A plaintive tune is sung or played over the raindrops and reaches a climax, through a shift in the pedal tone and its rhythmic intensity, at the line “and the rain is heard now loud and blurred,” before subduing itself back to a light drizzle and concluding the cycle.