I composed Dos sonetos de amor for pianist Michelle Basile. Her mother was terminally ill when I was composing them, and memories of my own motherʼs death when I was a boy were strongly in my mind. As a result, even though these two “songs” for cello and piano set texts by Pablo Neruda that are almost certainly about romantic love, they instead took the form of memorials to maternal love.
The two poems of Nerudaʼs that I set (literally—the cellist, could she speak, would enunciate every syllable of the texts in the original Spanish) are from his Cien sonetos de amor. “La casa transparente” (“The transparent house”) sets Soneto XC, “Pensé morir, sentí de cerca el frío” (“I thought I was dying, I felt the cold up close”). “La paz vertiginosa” (“The vertiginous peace”) sets Soneto LIII, “Aquí está el pan, el vino, la mesa, la morada” (“Here are the bread, the wine, the table, the house”). Both of my titles are phrases excerpted from their respective poems.