Brussels Philharmonic | Dreams: the poetry

Dreams: the poetry

CONCERT: DREAMS
21.01.2023 AT FLAGEY

read also: programme notes
read also: Dreams soundscapes

In that place where we have the deepest dreams, the wonderful gems George Benjamin’s Dream of the Song come forward one by one to show forth their imaginary beauty. The countertenor - “mysteriously sensual and sensually strange” – is embraced by the veiled sounds of a women’s choir and the orchestra. Moonshine, the night-time firmament, the gossamer-like dreams of a gazelle, a harp, a flute: images of bliss and wonderment – peace, at last.

Dream of the Song
George Benjamin

for countertenor, contratenor, female chorus and orchestra (2014-2015)

world premiere
: 25.09.2015, Concertgebouw Amsterdam - Bejun Mehta, Netherlands Chamber Choir, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra & George Benjamin
commission: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra & Festival d'automne à Paris


I. The Pen

Solomon Ibn Gabirol (translation Peter Cole)

Naked without either cover or dress,
utterly soulles, and hollow—
from its mouth come wisdom and prudence,
and in ambush it kills like an arrow.


II. The Multiple Troubles of Man

Samuel HaNagid (translation Peter Cole)

The multiple troubles of man,
my brother, like slander and pain,
amaze you? Consider the heart
which holds them all
in strangeness, and doesn’t break.

III. Gazing Through the Night

Samuel HaNagid (translation Peter Cole)

Gazing through the
night and its stars,
or the grass and its bugs,
I know in my heart these swarms
are the craft of surpassing wisdom.
Think: the skies
resemble a tent,
stretched taut by loops
and hooks;
and the moon with its stars,
a shepherdess,
on a meadow
grazing her flock;
and the crescent hull in the looser clouds
looks like a ship being tossed;
a whiter cloud, a girl
in her garden
tending her shrubs;
and the dew coming down is her sister
shaking water
from her hair onto the path;
as we
settle in our lives,
like beasts in their ample stalls—
fleeing our terror of death,
like a dove
its hawk in flight—
though we’ll lie in the end like a plat,
hammered into dust and shards.


Casida del llanto

Frederico García Lorca

Casida del llanto
Pero el llanto es un perro inmenso,
el llanto es un ángel inmenso,
el llanto es un violín inmenso,
las lágrimas amordazan al viento,
y no se oye otra cosa que el llanto.

But the weeping is an immense hound,
the weeping is an immense angel,
the weeping is an immense violin,
tears have muzzled the wind
and all that can be heard is the weeping.

IV. Gacela del amor maravilloso

Frederico García Lorca

Cielos y campos
anudaban cadenas en mis manos.

Campos y cielos
azotaban las llagas de mi cuerpo.

Skies and fiels
tied chains on my hands.

Fields and skies
lashed the wounds of my flesh.


V. The Gazelle

Samuel HaNagid (translation Peter Cole)

I’d give everything I own for that gazelle
who, rising at night to his
harp and flute,
saw a cup in my hand
and said:
“Drink your grape blood against my lips!”
And the moon was cut like a D,
on a dark robe, written in gold.


VI. My Heart Thinks as the Sun Comes Up

Solomon Ibn Gabirol (translation Peter Cole)

My heart thinks as the sun comes up
that what it does is wise:
as earth borrows its light,
as pledge it takes the stars

Casida del herido por el agua

Frederico García Lorca

¡qué desiertos de luz iban hundiendo
los arenales de la madrugada!

what deserts of light
buried the sands of dawn!