• Nicola LeFanu
  • I am Bread (1987)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Tracey Chadwell

  • Sopranopf
  • 7 min

Programme Note

No two performances of the same sonata by, say, Mozart will be identical even if played by the same pianist - but the greater freedom that many "contemporary" composers give their interpreters means that two performances of a work will be even less the same. In Nicola LeFanu's (b. 1947) I am Bread the notes are all predetermined but the ensemble between voice and piano is not. At times the rhythms are so complex that synchronisation between the parts is deliberately avoided and any feeling of a regular pulse is destroyed, and in several sections, notably the beginning and end, the vocal and piano lines are completely independent. This greater freedom brings with it greater responsibility for the re-creation of such a work and gives the performers more choice in reacting not just to one another but also to the acoustic and of course to the audience. Although in fact the work is highly structured the effect in several sections is improvisatory which gives the occasions when the two lines do come together, often in unison, greater effect.

Nicola LeFanu calls this work a "scena" for soprano and piano, highlighting the dramatic aspect of her setting of Kennelly's powerful poem. It is very sectional, contrast being primarily achieved with colour and texture, causing at times the complete transformation of material. For instance the slow, monochrome, pianissimo opening in the piano later becomes the thunderous fortissimo climax to the work.
© 1989 Pamela Lidiard