Hilda Paredes (1957)

Tres canciones lunáticas (2008 -2009)

for countertenor and string quartet
[Trois chansons lunatiques]

  • General information
    • Composition date: 2008 - 2009
    • Duration: 12 mn
    • Commission: Quarttetfest, Heidelberg
    • Dedication: I. Leo Hepner ; II. Jake Arditti et le Quatuor Arditti ; III. Sonia Simenauer
    • Libretto (details, author):

      Pedro Serrano

Detailed formation
  • solo countertenor, violin, second violin, viola, cello

Premiere information

  • Date: 7 April 2009

    Allemagne, Heidelberg, Quarttetfest (chants II et III)


    Jake Arditti et le Quatuor Arditti. Création intégrale le 3 février 2011 à Londres, Wigmore Hall.

Program note

This is a setting of three poems by Mexican poet Pedro Serrano. The poems are closely related to the moon, the night and darkness not only as seen in a landscape but as different stages within the soul.

As in other vocal works I have done, in Canciones lunáticas the music also unveils multiple semantic possibilities intrinsic in the language, sometimes changes the meaning, contradicts it, or plays with it until transformed.

The first song sets up the imagery of a dark, lonely night and how the moon is the only witness to a despairing loneliness. The music sets up all the elements, which develop in different directions as the cycle progresses.

The instrumental treatment in this piece is as important for defining the character of the material, as those harmonic, rhythmic and dynamic parameters.

In the second song we deal with lunacy, as the music sets up the sound imagery suggested by the text by means of superimposing four contrasting ideas to portray the idea of madness, before the four instruments set off with the material set up firstly by the viola, just before the voice comes in to spell out we are dealing with lunatics.

The phonetics of the language are enhanced by vocal and instrumental techniques with the sound of s in Spanish. This also adds a dramatic gesture by insinuating we have to speak in whispers or perhaps to suggest the singer is just as mad.

For the imagery of heavy padlocks used to lock them up, the use of extended instrumental techniques in the strings adds the idea of fear by means of noise needed to shut up their voices. This idea relates to the imagery of vast fierce darkness at night in the first song.

A dance rhythm which, is a slow down version of the Mexican huapango that changes from ternary to binary one closes the cycle on the last and third song, to the words:

the moon is dancing
by herself in the meadow.

Hilda Paredes.