Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

IAN BLAKE: Listen...

from The River Daughter

(Zoey Pepper)

 

From Ovid's Metamorphoses:

Pursued by Apollo, Daphne calls on her father, the river-god Peneus, to come to her aid: he answers her plea to take away the glamour which so inflamed that solar god, and duly transforms her into a laurel tree. Nothing remains of her but her 'shining beauty'.

Gods move in mysterious ways...

Here, bassoonist and singer Zoey Pepper appears in several layers, describing Daphne's transformation from nymph to shrub:

vix prece finita torpor gravis occupat artus,

mollia cinguntur tenui praecordia libro,

in frondem crines, in ramos bracchia crescunt,

pes modo tam velox pigris radicibus haeret,

ora cacumen habet: remanet nitor unus in illa.

Frank Zappa said of the bassoon: 'It has the medieval aroma...I can easily understand why a person could get excited about playing a bassoon. It's a great noise – nothing else makes that noise.' This aromatic old instrument gets computerally twisted and merged with the voice: all the sounds you will hear are derived from Zoey's voice and bassoon as the piece plays with thematic and sonic change, wandering first through changes in tonality, then of sonic counterpoint, before reaching an uneasy stasis.

Wolle die Wandlung! 'Desire transformation!' urges Rilke in one of his Sonnets to Orpheus. Fittingly for bassoonists and singers, he assures us that Daphne, in her transmuted state, would have us become as the Wind: ...die verwandelte Daphne will... daß du dich wandelst in Wind.