Sonnets and Love Songs

baritone and piano

Duration 12’
Instrumentation baritone, piano
First Performance October 2011, Oxford Lieder Festival, UK; Roderick Williams (baritone), Andrew West (piano)
Commissioned by the Oxford Lieder Festival, with funds from The Fidelio Charitable Trust and the PRS for Music Foundation ‘Women Make Music’
Charlotte has a worldwide, exclusive publishing agreement with Birdsong
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The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa (1888–1935) embraced the idea that he was composed of multiple beings, and believed that his singular being did not exist. In his poetry he demonstrated this idea by splitting himself into multiple personas and writing from their perspectives. He dubbed them heteronyms rather than pseudonyms, since they were not false names but ‘other names’ belonging to distinct literary personalities.

Sonnets and Love Songs consists of four songs setting poems by Pessoa written in English. Two poems were written under the heteronym Alexander Search: A Temple and Hidden. Both Mirrored Faces and Silent Streams were written under his own name.

All four poems are about innocence, turmoil and strength: trying to understand or make sense of the world. Two — Hidden and Silent Streams — focus on love, although rather than huge proclamations, they attempt to express how the poet feels. A Temple and Mirrored Faces are darker, reflecting on one’s fears, describing the ‘temple’ that one builds around oneself for protection, or the masks that we hide behind.