The Invalid's Sonnet

by Mark Snyder

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1.
2.
Come with me, you said And I’ll build a world apart Where you’ll never have to grieve For you’ll never want to leave Honeycomb from stingless bees Pillows soft as sparrow’s wings Golden goblets wait to catch The ruby wine from hidden springs Pathways lined with diamond dust Will lead us to a silver brook And there we’ll learn from dragonflies More secrets than one knows from books And envy will not be allowed From little minds we’ll bar the door And safe inside you’ll barely hear The West Wind’s angry roar Come with me, you said To our house upon the hill— Without a breath, without a sigh, I answered you—“I will.”
3.
My love’s a sickness, draining all my life My eyes, my head, my heart no longer free With gladness would I go under the knife if medic lived who’d tear this plague from me. My thoughts are not my own, they run astray My traitorous eyes will only look on you My fevered heartbeats inwardly betray the power of this love I’ve come to rue. For it has made me weak, and slow to act, Forgetful of the shining water’s mud; My mind a prison, and my body wracked, No remedy remains to staunch my blood— So, like the phoenix, burning from her core I must destroy myself to live once more.
4.
To free myself from love I set you free My precious independence was my all Your eyes of grey meant only chains to me I fled before your love’s demands could pall. So now I sit here in this dark cafe Where once we spoke of dreams we both could share I drink, and weep, and laugh as if I’m gay— Regardless of the way the people stare For everything reminds me now of you The golden moon, the bubbles in my wine, The airplane disappearing in the blue Will not let me forget that you were mine. Now every city, every face is new Fame’s my companion since we’ve been apart; But still my anguished soul knows that it’s true: I only gained the world to lose my heart.
5.
Calena 04:44
6.
Qwee 05:42
7.
II. Our house on the Hill Come with me, you said And I’ll build a world apart Where you’ll never have to grieve For you’ll never want to leave Honeycomb from stingless bees Pillows soft as sparrow’s wings Golden goblets wait to catch The ruby wine from hidden springs Pathways lined with diamond dust Will lead us to a silver brook And there we’ll learn from dragonflies More secrets than one knows from books And envy will not be allowed From little minds we’ll bar the door And safe inside you’ll barely hear The West Wind’s angry roar Come with me, you said To our house upon the hill— Without a breath, without a sigh, I answered you—“I will.” III. The invalid’s sonnet My love’s a sickness, draining all my life My eyes, my head, my heart no longer free With gladness would I go under the knife if medic lived who’d tear this plague from me. My thoughts are not my own, they run astray My traitorous eyes will only look on you My fevered heartbeats inwardly betray the power of this love I’ve come to rue. For it has made me weak, and slow to act, Forgetful of the shining water’s mud; My mind a prison, and my body wracked, No remedy remains to staunch my blood— So, like the phoenix, burning from her core I must destroy myself to live once more. IV. Nostalgia To free myself from love I set you free My precious independence was my all Your eyes of grey meant only chains to me I fled before your love’s demands could pall. So now I sit here in this dark cafe Where once we spoke of dreams we both could share I drink, and weep, and laugh as if I’m gay— Regardless of the way the people stare For everything reminds me now of you The golden moon, the bubbles in my wine, The airplane disappearing in the blue Will not let me forget that you were mine. Now every city, every face is new Fame’s my companion since we’ve been apart; But still my anguished soul knows that it’s true: I only gained the world to lose my heart.

about

The third record from Virginia-based multimedia composer Mark Snyder offers his most potent and emotional music yet. The album’s centerpiece, a four-movement song cycle titled Facets of Love, avoids the traditional art song cliche by following the lover’s spiral from joy to ruin. The poems written by Jeanine Casler take traditional forms, yet their stories are evocative and painful, traversing from love’s exuberant awakenings to its grittiest atrocities, and withering into its most isolated despondency. The anticipation and excitement of the prelude show love at its birth and its butterflies, with waves of sparkling electronics mirroring new affection as it grows and deepens. The soprano builds off this rhythmic trust into the second movement (Our House on the Hill); gentle at first, her voice grows strong and unafraid as the ensemble bolsters her passion into something alive, untethered, and completely joyous.

An uneasy stillness opens the third movement (The Invalid’s Sonnet), punctuated by the haunting echoes that shadow the soprano. The singer’s anger builds until it erupts into self-destructive chaos, with the thundering ensemble giving weight to her pained declarations of personal surrender. A chorus of her own wordless voice drifts into the emptiness left by anger’s end as the fourth movement (Nostalgia) begins; heavy piano chords interrupt the void in the slowest, strained heartbeat. The soprano sings high enough to break, and pure enough to wring her own regretful tears, had she any left to give. Hollow and barely human, the end of the song cycle resonates loss as it echoes into silence.

The abject emptiness felt at the end of Facets of Love grants a certain silence to Calena, a eulogy for a friend who died too young to NUT Midline Carcinoma, an untreatable form of cancer. Still synths expose a low, unstable melody, combining in dialogue until both give way to a triumphant-yet-tragic crescendo, her name echoing in the background. Where Nostalgia describes a pure, abstract loss, Calena spans all the emotions that come with remembrance; warm memories organically coexist with new sorrows.

Qwee breathes a starry whisper into the album’s end, at first sounding like a meditation on emerging from solitude. The work shimmers as it builds in both volume and speed, from just slow harp and soft singing to an organ-esque accordion bolstering a whirling cloud of voices. It suggests slowly built confidence after making a well-needed change, every new beat a quicker step on some untraveled path. “I haven’t completely grasped everything about Qwee,” Snyder says. “But it was definitely a beacon.”

The Invalid’s Sonnet will be released on February 19th through all digital retailers and streaming services; physical CDs can also be purchased online. See marksnyder.org for more information on listening, purchasing, or attending a show

credits

released February 19, 2016

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Mark Snyder Fredericksburg, Virginia

Despite what you may think about electronic composers, Mark does not work in a laboratory. His music does not offer cross- sections of frequencies or waveforms, nor does it mix technology & the canon inside a closed petri dish. Instead, Snyder produces soundscapes that envelope the viewer, and charged arrangements keyed specifically to the moving image. Space is occupied, and space is offered. ... more

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