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New Suns

by Variant 6

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1.
Tous ceux qui se chauffaient A un bon feu d’hiver Trouvent la chose amère: On les a destitués. Ils se gonflaient l’âme et le corps De chaleurs infinies, N’étaient dehors Que pour prouver leur chaude vie. Ils ont les pieds gelés, Ils ont les yeux gelés Et rêvent de sanglots Pour le feu désolé Qui couve un tas d’oiseaux Point encore emplumés. *** All those who sought warmth From a good fire in winter Now find the thing bitter: They have been shorn. Body and soul suffused By warmth untold, They stood outside to prove They knew no cold. Now their feet are numb And their eyes are numb. In their dreams they weep For the desolate embers Where a clutch of birds sleep Forlorn of feathers.
2.
Et que le feu me brûle! Il est toujours si loin Que le plus court chemin Me montre ridicule Aux rêveurs du chemin. Dites la chose affreuse: Toutes les mains sont froides Et la nuit nous font mal Car la terre on la creuse Avec une hâte affreuse La nuit, et avec tant de mal! Oh ! toute cette vie, Tout près de moi, le feu qui brûle… Dites ? serais-je ridicule? Oh ! vous tous, transis, hardis, Je vous le dis : Notre vie brûle! *** And it burns me, it burns… Such far-off flames That the shortest way Makes me look absurd In the travelers’ dreams. Say the harrowing words: All the hands are like ice And stab us in the dark, For they harrow the earth With feverish haste At night, and the ground so hard… These endless days, So close to the flame! Do I appear absurd? To the bold, the bone-chilled, I say this: Our life is ablaze!
3.
Couchons-nous, mon vieux, il est tard. C’est notre tâche d’être diurnes, C’est notre tâche! et l’infortune Des autres d’ouvrir l’œil la nuit Nous touche — mais ils ont dormi! Personne ne doit plus passer Sur la route et les églantiers Mettent seuls dans le fossé Leurs paumes claires ou bien rosées Qu’aucune épine n’égratigne. Couchons-nous, mon vieux, il est tard. Assez jouer, assez boire. Quittons l’arme et la ceinture Et déplions les couvertures Où dorment des bêtes noires. *** To bed, my friend. It’s getting late. We must be creatures of the day, We must! and though the evil fate Of those who keep watch through the night Weighs down our hearts, yet they have slept! No one may come along the road Tonight, and the dog roses Reach out into the ditch alone Their palms of white or coralline Ungrazed by any thorn. To bed, my friend. It’s getting late. The time for games and drinks is past. Off with the bayonet and belt, Then to lay out the blanket Where the black creatures wait.
4.
Blindingly, agonizingly clean The morning like a Japanese flag It seems that the hour will come The world diverges and deviates until Yesterday my mind was like the sea A butterfly, the beat of whose wings I don’t know if all roads lead to truth With clocklike precision Language is truly the house of being Language flows Whoever has even once known true beauty Life teaches one thing and another Like a bald man who collects combs Our destiny is in our hands Everything spins, everything throbs Bitter and scarce is the northern light All those delicate and stubborn The three-sided glass house: one side The nights write themselves into mornings All of a sudden I am speaking in an intertwined language The best part of day is night’s The Swordfish, The Kiss, and the Lizard Beneath the full moon and stars the motorbike The sparks from your firesmoky eyes The reader casts his shadow over the poem Yes, inhale, yes, everything is just like this To live more clearly In what language can I write Life’s living expression surges I walked along the seashore I listen for hours and hours The which is can be expressed Golden black my feathery tail Desert dogs run through my dreams Blazing unmoving sun One night he went swimming Lift up then, sun, a seaside house The falling stars rain every more steadily
5.
Libere e lievi in dolci suoni, dolci suoni per te le mie parole hanno trovato canti d'amore. Oggi il grido, arido, secco, esce serrato da un ansito breve di ricordo. *** Free and light in sweet sounds, sweet sounds for you are my words they have found songs of love. Today the cry, arid, dry, escapes clutched by a short gasp of memory.
6.
Sia calmo il mio respiro mentre il mare singhiozza sulla riva l'onda breve. Sento sul braccio il soffio carezzevole di maggio e il tuo tocco lieve. Immoto resta il cuore nell'ora che lenta si raggruma lenta, lenta. *** Be still my breath as the sea chokes up onto the shore the brief wave. I feel on my arm the caressing puff of May and your light touch. Motionless Rests the heart in the hour that it slowly condenses slowly, slowly.
7.
Quando tutto all'intorno si dissolve, indistinta cenere, nitida appari e dal profondo t'apri limpida ferita di dolorosa gioia. Vivida splendi, fiammeggi, lenta, lenta ti racchiudi. E non so il tuo nome. *** When everything around dissolves, indistinct ash, you appear clear and from the deep you open limpid wound of painful joy. Vivid you shine, you flame, slowly, slowly you curl up. And I don’t know your name.
8.
L’éloquence continue ennuie. … La nature agit par progrès. Itus et reditus, elle passe et revient, puis va plus loin, puis deux fois moins, puis plus que jamais, etc. AAA Le flux de la mer se fait ainsi AAAAAAA, le soleil semble marcher ainsi. *** Continual eloquence is tedious. … Nature acts progressively. To and fro, it comes and goes, then goes further, then half as far, then further and ever, etc. AAA The tides of the sea go AAAAAAA, the sun seems to do the same.
9.
Il faut se tenir en silence autant qu’on peut et ne s’entretenir que de Dieu qu’on sait être la vérité, et ainsi on se le persuade à soi-même. *** We must keep silence as far as we can and only talk to ourselves about God, whom we know to be true, and thus convince ourselves that s/he is.
10.
Les hommes sont si nécessairement fous que ce serait être fou par un autre tour de folie de n’être pas fou. *** Men are so necessarily mad that it would be mad through another trick of madness to not be mad.
11.
Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie. *** The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread.
12.
La puissance des mouches, elles gagnent des batailles, empêchent notre âme d’agir, mangent notre corps. *** Flies are so mighty, that they win battles, paralyze our minds, eat up our bodies.
13.
L’an de grâce 1654. Lundi 23 novembre, jour de saint Clément pape et martyr. … Depuis environ dix heures et demi du soir jusques environ minuit et demi. … Certitude, certitude, sentiment, joie, paix. *** The year of grace 1654. Monday, 23 November, feast of Saint Clement, Pope and Martyr. … From about half past ten in the evening until half past midnight. … Certainty, certainty, feeling, joy, peace.
14.
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring – When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing; The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling. What is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy, Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning, Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy, Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
15.
Turn from that road's beguiling ease; return to your hunger's turret. Enter, climb the stair chill with disuse, where the croaking toad of time regards from shimmering eyes your slow ascent and the drip, drip, of darkness glimmers on stone to show you how your longing waits alone. What alchemy shines from under that shut door, spinning out gold from the hollow of the heart? Enter the turret of your love, and lie close in the arms of the sea; let in new suns that beat and echo in the mind like sounds risen from sunken cities lost to fear; let in the light that answers your desire awakening at midnight with the fire, until its magic burns the wavering sea and flames caress the windows of your tower.

about

Contained in this album - Variant 6’s first full-length record - is a rich history. We began recording this project in November 2019, intending to finish and release the completed album in 2020. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, our final sessions were delayed again and again, until we could finally reconvene in the summer of 2021. We’ve been bursting to share this record for over two years.

The music we offer here celebrates the virtuosic potential of voices singing together. It represents a collection of some of our favorite repertoire from our first half-decade as an ensemble. The music is harmonically rich, deeply expressive, adventurous, and poignant. We are grateful to the composers for their fearless imaginations and for their trust in us. Their music answers the question posed by Denise Levertov in The Sea’s Wash in the Hollow of the Heart: “What alchemy shines from under that shut door, spinning out gold from the hollow of the heart?”

This album would not have been possible without our extended Variant 6 family, which, during the slow genesis of this record, grew by (a very special) one. On the final night of our first recording session in 2019, our soprano, Jessica Beebe, announced to us that she was expecting her first child with her husband, Mark. On the night we wrapped in 2021, Jess shared with us that their son, Henry, had taken his first steps that morning. New Suns, a new son; a reason to sing.

credits

released May 20, 2022

VARIANT 6

Jessica Beebe, soprano
Rebecca Myers, soprano
Elisa Sutherland, mezzo-soprano
Steven Bradshaw, tenor
James Reese, tenor
Daniel Schwartz, bass-baritone

Benjamin C.S. Boyle, producer
Jeremy Gill, co-producer for Six Pensées de Pascal and Zero Point Reflection
Charles Mueller, recording engineer, editor, mixing
Mike Tierney, mastering engineer

Album art by Steven Bradshaw and Christopher Glass

Support for this album was provided by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, The Presser Foundation, and our generous donors.

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Open G Records New York, New York

Open G Records is an independent classical record label based in New York City. We strive to assist the exceptional artists on our roster in making records that tell their stories on their terms. Our artists enjoy unprecedented freedom in the production of their art, and co-own the resulting product in a profit-sharing structure. We hope you enjoy this wonderful music and thank you for listening! ... more

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