Is This Then A Touch?

Ensemble: Baritone with piano
Duration: 4:00 minutes

Reviews:

“Dorothy Hindman wrote “Is this then a touch?” in Rome two years [ago], but had Seigel in mind. Its visceral text, from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” translated to a biting, dissonant score with a stinging catharsis.”
~Michael Huebner, “Seigel recital at Birmingham-Southern College powerful and vivid,” http://blog.al.com/scene/2008/09/music_at_a_glance/, September 3, 2008

Program Notes:

Is this then a touch? for baritone and piano was written  April 24 – May 9, 2006 at the American Academy in Rome.  The texts are fragments taken from Walt Whitman’s Songs of Myself, numbers 27, 28 and 29, from Leaves of Grass, all focusing upon on the myriad effects of touch upon the narrator.  It is both passionate and internal, bridging dramatic aria and lyrical art song.  Is this then a touch? was commissioned and written for baritone Daniel Seigel.

Premiere: September 2, 2008
Daniel Seigel, baritone
Lester Seigel, piano
Hill Recital Hall
irmingham Southern College
Birmingham, AL
Commissioner: Lester Seigel

Text:

28

Is this then a touch? quivering me to a new identity,
Flames and ether making a rush for my veins,
Treacherous tip of me reaching and crowding to help them,
My flesh and blood playing out lightning to strike what is hardly
different from myself, …

…Depriving me of my best as for a purpose, …

…I am given up by traitors,
I talk wildly, I have lost my wits, I and nobody else am the greatest traitor,
I went myself first to the headland, my own hands carried me there.

You villain touch! what are you doing? my breath is tight in its throat,
Unclench your floodgates, you are too much for me.

27

…Mine is no callous shell, …

29

Blind loving wrestling touch, sheath’d hooded sharp-tooth’d touch!
Did it make you ache so, leaving me?