In recognition of his Nobel Prize, celebrate Bob Dylan's poetry

In recognition of his Nobel Prize, celebrate Bob Dylan's poetry
© Photo of Bob Dylan by Alberto Cabello
Corigliano's deconstruction pays homage to the iconic singer-songwriter, making his verses wonderfully strange and strangely wonderful.
— Minneapolis Star Tribune

Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan for soprano and orchestra (2003) by John Corigliano is a perfect way to celebrate Dylan's literary stature, recognized on October 13 with his receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature. These are not arrangements or variations on the originals, but rather seven of Dylan's magnificent song texts re-set to original music by Corigliano.

'When Sylvia McNair asked me to write her a major song cycle for Carnegie Hall, she had only one request; to choose an American text. I had always heard, by reputation, of the high regard accorded the folk-ballad singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. But I was so engaged in developing my orchestral technique during the years when Dylan was heard by the rest of the world that I had never heard his songs. So I bought a collection of his texts, and found many of them to be every bit as beautiful and as immediate as I had heard — and surprisingly well-suited to my own musical language.

'Just as Schumann or Brahms or Wolf had re-interpreted in their own musical styles the same Goethe text, I intended to treat the Dylan lyrics as the poems I found them to be. I chose seven poems for what became a thirty-five minute cycle. A Prelude: Mr. Tambourine Man, in a fantastic and exuberant manner, precedes five searching and reflective monologues that form the core of the piece; and Epilogue: Forever Young makes a kind of folk-song benediction after the cycle's close. Dramatically, the inner five songs trace a journey of emotional and civic maturation, from the innocence of Clothes Line through the beginnings of awareness of a wider world (Blowin' in the Wind), through the political fury of Masters of War, to a premonition of an apocalyptic future (All Along the Watchtower), culminating in a vision of a victory of ideas (Chimes of Freedom).'

— John Corigliano

Four Versions:
for soprano and orchestra
for soprano and wind ensemble
for soprano and chamber ensemble
for soprano and piano

Recording:
Naxos 8.559331 Hila Plitmann, soprano; Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra; JoAnn Falletta, conductor

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