for Soprano and String Quartet 

In his earlier compositions inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman, Rolfe was interested more in the sound of Whitman’s verse than in its meaning. In these settings of poems from Leaves of Grass, however, he takes a more traditional art-song approach, his music reflecting the thoughts and sentiments conveyed by the words. The poems he has chosen from Whitman’s famous collection—“I heard you solemn-sweet pipes of the organ,” “Not heaving from my ribb’d breast only,” “O you whom I often and silently come,” “Trickle drops,” “One hour to madness and joy,” and “A clear midnight”—explore various facets of desire, whether quiet, turbulent, or defiant. “Despite its high romantic tone,” says Rolfe, “Whitman’s verse remains palatable to our ears; the beauty of his language, his loving attention to its rhythm and sound, and his direct, unpretentious tone make him one of the most approachable of poets.”

Performed by:
Accordes String Quartet
Measha Bruggergosman, soprano