How to make Barber's "Andromache's Farewell"

This painful recipe is an American take on the classic German-Greek dish. “It’s underlying form is conventional (Mozart would have spotted it instantly), yet Barber joins it to the [original Greek] text with consummate ingenuity.” The ingredients are the same: one soprano and one orchestra. When done right (“with vitality”), the main ingredient (the soprano) is painted “at the extremity of pain and suffering.” The soprano will “sound energized by all this unrestrained fury,” which will "bite off consonants with barely concealed ferocity.” But, at the same time, the orchestra will match the soprano “punch for punch,” culminating in a “...raw dramatic set piece, [consisting of] all anguish and fervent outbursts.”


One Soprano, “crisp” with “vocal power” and “nervous energy” (if possible, choose a Deborah Voigt)
One Large Orchestra, with a “forward-pushing” Michael Tilson Thomas (best found in the San Francisco region of California)

1 tsp. “Lament”
1 tsp. “Accusation”
1 tsp. “Pathos”
1 tsp. “Outcry”

In a large concert hall, bring the orchestra to rage (“the first few minutes”), while the “soprano contributes comparatively restrained snippets of recitative.” Then, “as the scene continues, the [soprano and the orchestra] reach out to one another, as if in sympathy – first in a stretch of lyrical melody, then in increasingly unhinged bursts of dramatic frenzy.” Next, “gradually [bring] the orchestra and singer into phase with one another,” until a “fever pitch” so that it “still has room for dramatic maneuvering.” Gradually stir in “lament, accusation, pathos, and outcry.” Let rage for "a terse 11 minutes" or until “lament, accusation, pathos and outcry” are all explored in various ways. Serve sporadically.

This nefarious recipe may be paired with Oliver Knussen, Richard Strauss, or an even-numbered Beethoven Symphony.

Empiricus: Oh. So that's how you compose.


Empiricus said...

Okay, so this was kinda esoteric for the first in this little series. Suffice it to say that I take issue with the rampant over-abuse of adjectives. See now? I recontextualized a review by making a food recipe out of it, which satirizes how poorly the author's adjectives were chosen. They didn't tell us anything relevant to the piece in question; they were generic. So there.