Works > Canciones lunáticas

Canciones lunáticas

Lunatic Songs
Written in:
countertenor and string quartet
Commisioned by

Commissioned by Quarttetfest in Heidelberg. Song Texts: Pedro Serrano.


Songs II and III premier on 17th April 2009 at Quarttetfest in Heidelberg.
 The complete cycle was premiered on 3rd February 2011 at the Wigmore Hall, London.both by Jake Arditti and the Arditti quartet.

Programme Note

Paredes found a parallel for much of the imagery of this quartet in the writing of another Mexican poet, one a little older than her, Pedro Serrano, and one telling again of the moon, if in a more sombre spirit.

Read More

The difference suited her, for she was writing for her stepson now as an adult, with an adult’s awareness and musicality, so that she could make the vocal line much more demanding, rhythmically and in its quarter-tone tuning, and correspondingly more inward and intricate in its expression.  The instruments, being taken through a wide diversity of textures and sounds, can project and extend that landscape; the voice, always lyrical, is the wanderer in it. In the mad song that ensues, the case is a little different, for even though the piece has a substantial quartet prelude, the voice seems much more to be steering musical matters. Madness enters the vocal writing in the sudden leaps, the verbal tics (the snatched rhythm of ‘(lu)naticos’, for instance), the swaying glissandos and the, however sparing, use of speech-song – and yet this is still a lyrical piece, the voice’s shine sometimes beautifully prolonged by the quartet. In the much shorter last song it is as if the singer takes possession of his madness and begins to dance (in an alternation of 3/4 and 6/8 bars that represents, the composer informs us, a decelerated huapango). Perhaps this is the secret of art.

– Paul Griffiths