for baritone and piano; 7′ (2005)
poetry: Edgar Allan Poe
performed by Daniel Weinstein, baritone and Scott Gendel, piano:
published by Classical Vocal Reprints
buy the score:
“Annabel Lee” is one of the more famous poems in the English language, and for good reason: Poe’s story in verse is one of the more hauntingly memorable things I’ve ever read. For a long time, I avoided setting it to music because I had been studiously avoiding famous poetry, afraid that I would somehow “ruin” it. But eventually, my love for this text overcame that fear, and this dramatic art song was the result. First, I took the simple directness of Poe’s text as a cue, and wrote a melody that evokes folk songs while also portraying the rocking of the seas as a backdrop. Second, Poe’s words have a beautiful repetition that turns the whole poem into a kind of mantra; so my setting of it keeps returning to the same melodic contours and textures, before breaking out of that repetition for the climactic moments. Overall, my “Annabel Lee” seeks to turn Poe’s famous poem into something like an extended folk song, taking it out of “important poem” territory and into a disarmingly direct expression of love and loss.