The underrated Earl Kim’s setting of Samuel Beckett’s “thither” occurs twice in Now and Then, Kim’s 1981 song cycle for soprano, flute, viola, and harp. At just over 30 seconds, “thither” the song is a haunting shiver, a ghost aria, unforgettable even without the reprise. Beckett’s snatches of text, Kim’s spiky yet delicately mournful music, and Karol Bennet’s vulnerable, seeking performance have stuck with me since I first heard this recording in 1999, proving that you can pack a punch in a tiny package.
Earl Kim, “thither” from Now and Then for soprano, flute, viola, and harp.
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