George Crumb and his “Ancient Voices of Children” cycle set to Lorca’s lyrics. A lecture by Olga Manulkina.

In the new Modern Audience Laboratory podcast, George Crumb’s song cycle is presented by Olga Manulkina (lecturer at Saint Petersburg University and author of “Ives to Adams: XXth Century American Music”).

The discussion revolves around the composer’s fascination with Spanish poetry and the way the spirit of duende manifests itself in music by Manuel de Falla and Dmitri Shostakovich. The podcast also mentions the difficulties in translating Lorca into Russian and talks about singing without lyrics. It focuses on Crumb’s obsession with cosmogonic myths and scenic rituals, as well as on how “Ancient Voices of Children” combines flamenco with Bach while its oboe reminds us of Mahler and its lullaby is a reference to Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death”. It talks about the coexistence of the singing saw and the mandolin in the ensemble and about Crumb’s manipulations with the piano turning it into a string instrument. Finally, the podcast discusses echo effects stemming from Crumb’s childhood in the Appalachian mountains and the composer’s way of continuing the ancient tradition of “music for the eye”.

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Olga Manulkina