Vocal Chamber Duets, Trios, and Quartets: An Examination of the Genre
Rainbolt, Steven Robert
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Vocal chamber music for solo voices in the combinations of duets, trios, and quartets flowered from a long tradition of ensemble music-making and produced a bouquet of musical "gems" deserving inclusion on the song recital program. For this dissertation, vocal chamber music specifies music composed for a maximum of four solo voices in duets, trios, and quartets with piano. It excludes music of the theater, sacred repertoire, and all orchestral and large ensemble accompaniment. Also excluded are pre-baroque and baroque a cappella works. Although intended for solo voices, they do not represent my intended definition of vocal chamber music. It is hoped that this performance dissertation will renew interest in this music. It comprises three recitals representing a variety of styles and languages, demonstrating an overview of the music from the genre, and explores its origins and continuing interest by present-day composers to write music for various voice combinations. In organizing the recitals it was most beneficial to give preference first to the languages and then the styles and periods. This project is documented by three CD recordings of the respective recitals. Recital I (April 20, 2001) was devoted solely to German works because of the great wealth of literature in that language. The program presented duets, trios, and quartets by Brahms, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, and Schumann. The pieces were performed by a graduate song repertoire class. Recital II (May 21, 2004) was devoted to French and Italian works and utilized fewer singers; a quartet consisting of soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, and baritone. They performed duets, trios, and quartets by Chausson, Denza, Donizetti, Donaudy, Faure, Gounod, Massenet, Mozart, Rossini, and Saint-Saens. Recital III (April 21, 2004) was devoted to duets for soprano and baritone, and presented languages not previously covered: English, Spanish, Czech, and Russian. The intent was to pare down the singers to the most intimate of participants in this genre--the duet. Only one voicing combination was employed since the previous recitals utilized many varities of duet pairings. This recital included works by Britten, Dvorak, Eccles, Fiske, Foster, Granados, Gretschaninov, Haydn, Lawes, Purcell, Rachmaninoff, Roe, and Sargon.