Soprano and Double Bass
Peter Askim, Double Bass
Featured on Judith Kellock: East Meets West (Albany Records, Troy 885)
Soprano Judith Kellock asked me to write some settings of Vietnamese poems, having heard about the revolutionary poetry of the eighteenth-century woman poet Ho Xuan Huong. Far ahead of her time, she wrote beautiful and bold poetry in which nature imagery held multiple, often erotic, meanings. Upon researching other Vietnamese poets, I discovered a whole world of incredible poignancy, tenderness and universality.
I happened upon the work of Dinh Vu, whose stunningly beautiful translations of Vietnamese poetry were a labor of love, and whom I was fortunate enough to meet. I was immediately taken by the deceptive simplicity and melancholy of the imagery, which suggested a vast range of emotions and sounds to me. The unusual instrumentation of soprano and double bass, two sonic extremes, seemed perfect to embody both the stark, spare simplicity of the texts and the dense tangles of emotion that lurked just beneath their surface.