From a Book of Hours

for Soprano and Ensemble

James Primosch

Duration: 00:18:00
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

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From a Book of Hours · James Primosch · 21st Century Consort

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Program Note
This cycle of orchestral songs sets four poems from an early collection by Rilke entitled Das
Stundenbuch, or in English, Book of Hours. Although the title refers to a medieval book of
prayers for the various times of day and seasons of the liturgical year, Rilke?s texts occupy a
position some distance from conventional piety. There is a melancholy to the spirituality
expressed here, which speaks of an experience of God that is fragmentary, imperfect, and
perhaps even unattainable. The solitude evoked in the second song (as layers of busy activity
are gradually peeled away) offers some solace, but the third song is very dark and fierce, filled
with a desperate, even manic desire for God. The last song returns to the mood of the first, but
now in a global rather than individual context. This song, like the set as a whole, speaks of
our world?s brokenness, yet strives to stammer fragments of God?s name.

These songs were originally composed in a version for large orchestra on a commission from
the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. That ensemble premiered the work in 2002, with Lisa
Saffer as soloist and Antonio Pappano conducting. The present version was made in the fall of
2006 for its first performers, who gave the premiere in December of that year: Christopher
Kendall, Susan Narucki, and the 20th Century Consort.

Additional Information

Composition Date 2001, 2006
Orchestration Solo Sop.; 1 1(dbl. E.H.) 1(dbl. B.Cl.) 0 - 1 0 0 0; 1Perc. Pno. Str. ( or small ensemble)
Premiere December 2006 - 20th Century Consort, ChristopherKendall (conductor), Susan Narucki (soloist)


I. Du, nachbar Gott II. Mein Leben III. L

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