The Great Deep CD

Price: $14.99
Songs of transition by Frank Wallace
sung by Nancy Knowles accompanied by the composer on ten-string guitar
Gyre 10102

Duo LiveOak
Nancy Knowles, mezzo soprano
Frank Wallace, ten-string guitar by Stephan Connor
Released: January 11, 2011

Gyre Publications
Copyright ©2010 Frank A. Wallace
Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles
All rights reserved.

Selection from the CD are on the player below.

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The Great Deep, songs of transition (Volume II of The Songs of Frank Wallace) features three song cycles and other new works:

  • The Great Deep (Tennyson, Shakespeare, Rossetti, Turner, Donne, Pope, Shelley)
  • The House of Bernarda Alba (Federico Garcia Lorca)
  • Mi Jardin de Calla (Nancy Knowles)
  • Speak Love (Henriette de Saussure Blanding)
  • The Chimes (Charles Dickens)
  • d’Orleans for solo guitar

Duo LiveOak is grateful to all 58 backers (plus 4 others!) who supported The Great Deep CD Project on Kickstarter.com! Our first Duo recording in 6 years features these 8 songs and is all about rites of passage: end of the old year, beginning of the new, wild passion of youth on the verge, wonderings of great old age.

PROGRAM NOTES
The Great Deep is eight songs pondering life’s greatest mystery, for high voice with lush accompaniments on 10-string guitar. I chose the well-known poems by Turner, Donne, Pope, Shelley, Rossetti, Shakespeare, and Tennyson in honor of our parents. (Three of them were well into their 90’s when I wrote the piece in 2008.) The poems reflect on the transition from this life to the unimaginable beyond. Merlin’s riddle from Tennyson’s The Coming of Arthur is really the theme song of the entire CD, covering in a few lines the passage from youth to adulthood, from middle age to old age (What, after all, is Truth?) and from old age back to the great deep:

Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow in the sky!
A young man will be wiser by and by;
An old man’s wit may wander ere he die.
Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow on the lea!
And truth is this to me, and that to thee;
And truth or clothed or naked let it be.
Rain, sun, and rain! and the free blossom blows:
Sun, rain, and sun! and where is he who knows?
From the great deep to the great deep he goes.

House of Bernarda Alba
I wrote Ovejita and Paca la Roseta as part of a group of pieces Emerson College commissioned for performances of the Lorca play La Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba) in April of 2010, –Sunil Swaroop, director and Zac Baker-Salmon, assistant director. It was my first music for a staged production. Duo LiveOak debuted the full versions of both pieces at the 2010 St. Joseph Guitar Festival in St. Joseph, Missouri. Ovejita, “little lamb,” is the only actual song from the play, sung by grandmother Maria Josefa who is locked up by her daughter for her “madness”, but truly she is the wise fool in Lorca’s conception. She describes a hut of coral on the beach where she and the lamb she carries will find peace. It is not unlike the visions of the beyond of the dying. Her dreamy ramblings are interrupted by angry taunting calls to her daughter and granddaughter. Paca la Roseta is an incidental character in the play, a lascivious young woman who is carried off (“held like a guitar”) on horseback, willing and bare-breasted, by the virile young men of the town…a stark contrast to the lives of Bernarda’s five adult daughters, cloistered by their overbearing mother.

Mi Jardín de Calla is a solo song for voice and guitar that I wrote for David Newsam, then director of the Boston Classical Guitar Society, to be performed in the spring of 2007 in an evening of “The Music of Frank Wallace”. As concert plans progressed, we took the opportunity to score the piece for all twelve performers, including many guitars, cello, flute, and two singers. My partner Nancy Knowles wrote the poem in Spanish when we were on tour in Peru in the summer of 2005. The poem reflects on the layering of civilizations, describing a tiny garden full of white calla lilies hidden in the bustling center of old colonial Arequipa, where the gentle breezes easily whisper through the open porticoes and salons. The syncopated bass line contrasts a sense of “street music” with the parallel fifths of ancient church music.

Speak Love
This song-cycle was conceived at an overnight stay at guitar scholar Thomas Heck’s home in Santa Barbara in March, 2005. Speak Love is set to hauntingly beautiful love poems by Henriette de Saussure Blanding, Anne Heck’s grandmother, written in one year, 1909-1910, when she was eighteen. I composed the first five songs within two weeks and debuted the cycle a month later while on tour in Germany. Two songs were added in the fall of 2005. I dedicated it to various couples of the American guitar world including the Hecks, the Longs and the Danners.

The Chimes
After completing the Great Deep in 2008, I was looking for something else to write for my new ten-string guitar by Stephan Connor. Just after Christmas Nancy found an old copy of “Christmas Stories” (including the story The Chimes) by Dickens sitting on a shelf at my in-laws’ house. I frequently have a creative rush at the end of the year – free time and a beautiful place to hole up for a couple of weeks. I set to work, and met my goal of finishing the piece on the afternoon of December 31. Dickens’ words sum up the spirit of the CD: The year was Old, that day. The patient Year had lived through the reproaches and misuses of its slanderers and faithfully performed its work… I see the Spirit of the Chimes among you! I know there is a sea of Time to rise one day, before which all who wrong us will be swept away like leaves. I see it, on the flow! …I know that we must trust and hope, and neither doubt ourselves, nor doubt the good in one another… ’O Spirits, merciful and good, I am grateful!’

Gyre Publications
Copyright ©2010 Frank A. Wallace
Cover photography and design by Nancy Knowles
All rights reserved.

Watch a video on the making of the Great Deep CD at Kickstarter.

The Great Deep CD: An Inside View from nancy knowles on Vimeo.

We have a summer ritual of recording our work in a small church in an 18th century country village near where we live. The church has hardwood walls that give a warm full acoustic, an American echo of our years performing in romanesque churches in France and Spain. We’re happy to report we got our recording done before the first frost–an unheated church is no place for a guitarist in November! Here we share our journey through fall colors, old New England, and the magic of sound and song…

The Great Deep: songs of transition
new works by Frank Wallace
gyremusic.com

Duo LiveOak
Nancy Knowles, mezzosoprano
Frank Wallace, 10-string classical guitar

For the last fifteen years as Duo LiveOak we have been collaborating as composer and poet to produce our own new body of art song with classical guitar. This period has also witnessed the decline and death of both of our mothers, and the slowing of our fathers, now in their mid nineties. Our new CD, The Great Deep, honors this, their last journey. It turns to the wisdom of their favorite poets for inspired song texts such as Merlin’s words below, Shakespeare’s Our Revels Now are Ended, and John Donne’s sermon For Whom the Bell Tolls, all accompanied by Frank’s rich 10-string classical guitar. You’ll hear echoes of myriad styles in Frank’s original compositions, from classical to medieval to the blues to avant garde.

‘Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow in the sky!
A young man will be wiser by and by;
An old man’s wit may wander ere he die.
Rain, rain, and sun! a rainbow on the lea!
And truth is this to me, and that to thee;
And truth or clothed or naked let it be.
Rain, sun, and rain! and the free blossom blows:
Sun, rain, and sun! and where is he who knows?
From the great deep to the great deep he goes.’

From The Coming of Arthur by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Jonathan Richmond review, 5/3/11 The Tech (MIT) – The Great Deep CD by Duo LiveOak

Knowles’ singing is brilliant – her sharp characterization and perfect sense of timing freezes the mind in rapt attention.
Wallace is one of our ages truly important composers, his music at once arresting, thoughtful, accessible, revealing…and restful.

read entire review