Barber Hermit Songs

Am just starting to explore the Hermit Songs, Op 29, by the American composer Samuel Barber.

Although they were first performed by Leontyne Price the cycle of ten songs seems perfectly suited, both musically and in the poetry, to a man's voice. Indeed, the forward to my edition talks about how Barber appeared to have Fischer-Dieskau in mind while writing them. 

I'm particularly enjoying the medieval Irish (Gaelic and Latin) poetry, which is set in translation by a variety of modern poets. Number 4, I would like to have the men of Heaven in my own house, is right up my street as a picture of a party to which are invited all the hosts of heaven, and I'd promise to get in a lake of beer for it. Number 8, The Monk and His Cat is a lovely explanation of why the monk and the cat live so well together. I can hear bits of show-time Bernstein in it. 

The songs are all quite short but intense, and the overall impression reminds me a bit of the Britten Songs and Proverbs of William Blake - the longer numbers are interspersed with shorter, pithier, more direct items. 

Hoping to sing them during October - watch out for details.

Tags: Barber