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Picaresque Resouces for David Del Tredici's Herrick's Oratorio

Picaresque Resouces for David Del Tredici's Herrick's Oratorio

22 May 2023 / William Anderson / Compositions, composers, How to Talk about Music

Trickters Picaros and Del Tredici’s Herrick

Some picaresque resources

Access to the Picaresque, roughly from more probable to less probable —

Bugs Bunny
Rocky and Bullwinkle
Barry Lyndon
Gulliver’s Travels
Moll Flanders
The Reivers
Til Eugenspiegel
The Rake’s Progress
Laurence Stearn
Sartor Resartus
Lazarillo de Tormes

Lincoln Center & Carnegie Hall have merged with Bang on a Can. That’s to be celebrated because new music is now what people crave. The Bang on a Can aesthetic starts from scratch. Are there prerequisites for access/entry to this burgeoning body of work? Perhaps the only prerequisites for entry are some iconic minimalist and post-minimalist works. That’s the point, it’s all very accessible.

Access to Del Tredici’s Herrick’s Oratorio can come only from the music and its text, especially if the listener comes with a good attitude. About 50 years ago, the arts establishment would help with that, sadly the quality of arts journalism has fallen to a low point.

Herrick would have benefitted from some picaresque prepping of the audience.

Another useful pre-requisite is *a nose for enantiodromia*. I mentioned Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus — a picaresque journey to the *eternal yea*.

a nose for enantiodromia

“I do believe”, repeated incessantly in the first movement of Herrick’s Oratorio, makes us think of “the eternal yea” in Sartor Resartus, and then we wonder if Carlyle thought of Beethoven’s “es muß sein”…….

………In Del Tredici’s first movement – “I do believe” gradually becomes, “I believe nothing” — an enantiodromia, a psychological revolution from one pole to another.

This process takes time and therefore, for me the movement is not at all too long. Let’s remember Abraham Lincoln and say its legs are long enough to reach the floor. Bach’s Chaconne: what makes the proportions into and out of the parallel major so right? I’ve thought hard about how he makes it right and in the end there is a qualitative sense that leaves us with no concern for reasons, just a sense of rightness. So with first movement of Herrick, are the proportions right for a composer trying to get across a sense of doubt about that endlessly repeated pharse, “I do believe”?

I thought so, and leave it to you. And how long does it take to absorb the composer’s attitude towards Herrick’s poetry? His attitude is not straightforward. It’s tricky. After going back and forth about this I decided that Herrick is plenty picarsque. He’s from the right century. Part of Del Tredici’s revelry is the fun he has with archaisms.

It matters not a bit if Del Tredici gets all this by feel or by deep and extensive reading of Cervantes & Lazarillo de Tormes.

Elsewhere I asked the question, what other composer is a trickster like Del Tredici. After a bit of thought – Velasquez. “Morenica dame un beso” is utterly tricky. –**outrageous Del Tredici bawdiness through tempting misplaced elisions of syllables**. And feined sincerity – the fauxbourdon-prayerful, “please give me what I demand”. See Rodrigo’s Fandango for gutiar solo– a moment of earnest sincerity is laughed away.

There’s nothing new under the sun, but Del Tredici’s Picaresque is on a large scale and it’s more convincing that Strauss’ Til Eulenspiegel.

I do picaresque guitar programs. I did one at Weill, and one in Brno. Here’s a playlist from Brno, opening with Velasquez’ Morenica Dame Un Beso, intabulated by guitarist (vihuelist) Miguel de Fuenllana.

Fuenllana’s cover–

The playlist continues with other picresque impertinences.

–William Anderson