John Corigliano’s “Voyage”: Sailing into a World of Obsessive Imagination

Regarding the dreamy and sensuous Voyage for Flute and String Orchestra, the American composer John Corigliano (b. 1938) writes,

Voyage for flute and string orchestra (1983) is an instrumental version of a 1971 a cappella choral work that was a setting of Richard Wilbur’s translation of Baudelaire’s famous L’Invitation au voyage. Wilbur’s poignant setting pictures a world of obsessive imagination — a drugged version of heaven full of sensual imagery. The music echoes the quality of the repeated refrain found in this lush translation: “There, there is nothing else but grace and measure, richness, quietness and pleasure.

Corigliano’s brief Voyage is filled with the atmosphere of Charles Baudelaire’s shimmering 1857 poem. Yet, as a purely instrumental work, the piece seems to have found its true voice. The composer once said, “If I have my own style, I’m not aware of it.” In his 1991 opera, The Ghosts of Versailles, aftertones of Mozart and Rossini float into a late twentieth century soundscape. While drifting into new waters, Voyage contains echoes of the music of Vaughan Williams and Barber.

Here is James Galway’s 1987 recording with David Effron and the Eastman Philharmonia:

When heard in its earlier incarnation for string orchestra alone, Voyage offers a slightly different but equally rewarding experience. This 2018 performance features the Boston-based chamber orchestra, A Far Cry:

Recordings

  • Corigliano: Voyage for Flute and String Orchestra, James Galway, David Effron, Eastman Philharmonia Amazon
  • Corigliano: Voyage for String Orchestra, Lawrence Leighton Smith, The Louisville Orchestra Amazon

Featured Image: Port de mer au soleil couchant (1639), Claude Gellée dit Le Lorrain

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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