Songs of Irony/Songs of Love
For soprano and piano
3 sonnets and a poem by Edna St. Vincent
- What lips my lips have kissed
- I, being born a woman
- Love is not all
Duration circa 13 minutes
These songs were commissioned by the lovely soprano, Donna Zapola-Connolly, now Dr. Connolly a much admired voice teacher.
The piano parts are extremely virtuosic so engage a pianist with a bold technique! The group is nicely balanced by two comic love songs: Spring and I, being born a woman and two deeply felt love lyrics: What lips my lips have kissed and Love is not all, but individual songs are certainly extractable on their own.
Below you can hear excerpts from recordings the superb singer, Heidi Skok and I made when she was still singing soprano repertoire.
“One of Hennessy’s great strengths as a song composer is his understanding both of word stressing and the inner rhythms of their meaning... The vocal line of these songs is always melodic and grateful to sing…. This cycle would be a wonderful centerpiece for a graduate level or professional recital sung by a soprano with a warm and ample sound."
—Judith Carman, Journal of Singing
Surely, the narrator in Spring is not getting any. However, the passionate articulation of that annoyance makes her all the more loveable. She stamps her feet, wrinkles her nose and swaggers with the pride of Annie Oakley.
What lips my lips have kissed is a nostalgic melody echoing deep within that space the literary critics call interiority.
In the poem, I, being born a woman, never have I read such high flown language express such earthy, physical desires. I felt a jazzy rag emerging into a cha-cha would the perfect musical vocabulary for the words to this hard hitting sonnet.
The opening declaration in Love is not all is a primal wailing: a denial that some quality like love could override the material. Yet….in the end it must.
What lips my lips have kissed
I, being born a woman
Love is not all