Mischances of Life for Orchestra
I. In the Cold, in the Deep, in the Dark
II. Away, Away, O Monstrous Choice
III. Misfortune’s Folly
IV. Dreams Among the Trees
V. Fly Low, Stay Out of Sight
From Harbach’s opera O Pioneers! – the first movement of Mischances of Life for Orchestra, I. In the Cold, in the Deep, in the Dark is the dark place where one retreats after a horrendous tragedy occurs. Alexandra begins to contemplate her feelings after the death of her brother and his lover, Maria were murdered. Sadness and melancholy are sweetly portrayed by the mournful brass and comforting woodwinds.
The second movement is another vignette from O Pioneers! II. Away, Away, O Monstrous Choice. When the lovers Emil and Maria try to resist their deadly attraction to each other, they sadly agree to part. Agitation in the strings sets the mood of indecision, as solo woodwinds and brass try to find a resolution regarding the fate of the lovers. Foreboding becomes clear with a brief reference to the Latin sequence, Dies Irae (the Day of Wrath). Theme and motives are tossed amongst the instruments in a conversation that has no answers.
In the third movement, III. Misfortune’s Folly, playful repartee, and bantering transpires between Emil and Marie, the language lovers often use with one another. They meet at a Church fair where the crowds and activities hide their assignation. Emil’s voice is often portrayed by the trombone, and Marie’s voice by sweet woodwinds or the beguiling trumpet. Their duet of love is richly resonant with the trombone and trumpet. A slight flavor of Mexican music is reminiscent of Emil’s return from Mexico, and before the love duet blossoms and engages the full orchestra.
In IV. Dreams Among the Trees, Alexandra, Emil, and Marie’s thoughts return to a more innocent time of their lives with playful motives intertwining and chasing each other. Then Marie’s Moon Waltz begins and transports the trio to Dreams Among the Trees, and all are entranced by the rapturous moment. A sinister reminder that love may be a double-edged sword.
The last movement, V. Fly Low, Stay Out of Sight foreshadows the tragedy that is about to befall the lovers Emil and Marie. Frequent meter changes and the ominous coloring of the orchestral themes underscore the tensions of Fly low, stay out of sight. Once put wrong, the world is hard to right.