The Concert Singers performing Effinger’s Pastorales with Ryan Zwahlen, oboe. Jenni Brandon, director.

I’ve played two of these, but never all. I played one (Basket) when I was in high school, so that was sometime between 1970 and 74. I played that same one and then another (No Mark) when my daughter was in high school (she graduated in ’03). I loved knowing that I played it first when I was her age as she sang! I find these well written for oboe, and very lovely.

I see that Ryan Zwahlen has posted three of the four (Noon is absent), so I’m posting them below.

I always thought the last four notes of this one were to represent playing taps. I don’t know for sure, but considering the words I thought perhaps I was correct. Here are the words, from th Thomas Hornsby Ferril poem:

No Mark

Corn grew where the corn was spilled
In the wreck where Casey Jones was killed,
Scrub-oak grows and sassafrass
Around the shady stone you pass
To show where Stonewall Jackson fell
That Saturday at Chancellorsville,
And soapweed bayonets are steeled
Across the Custer battlefield ;
But where you die the sky is black
A little while with cracking flak,
Then ocean crosses very still
Above your skull that held our will.

O swing away, white gull, white gull,
Evening star, be beautiful.

Basket

Know me then.
The children out of the shade have brought me a basket
Very small and woven of dry grass
Smelling as sweet in December as the day I smelled it first.
Only one other ever was this to me,
Sweet birch from a far river,
You would not know, you did not smell the birch,
You would not know, you did not smell the grass,
You, you did not know me then.
Know me then.
The children out of the shade have brought me a basket.

Wood

There was a dark and awful wood
Where increments of death accrued
To ev’ry leaf and antlered head
Until it withered and was dead,
And lonely there I wandered and wandered and wandered.
But once a myth-white moon shone there
And you were kneeling by a flow’r,
And it was practical and wise
For me to kneel and you to rise,
And me to rise and turn to go,
And you to turn and whisper no,
And seven wondrous stags that I could not believe
Walked slowly by.

2 Comments

  1. I love these Effinger pieces – played them (all) about 1999 with a choir I was singing with, so lovely. The choir director at NIC where I teach keeps promising to do them with me, but they keep getting bumped. *sigh*

  2. They sit so well for oboe, don’t they? :-)