Sergei Rachmaninoff: Son

Written by Joseph Li

Pianist and Coach

May 16, 2018

‘Son’ can be translated as either “sleep” or “dream” in Russian – in this poem by Feodor Sologub, the former seems not only evident but sensually and powerfully personified. I have included this song, not just because it happens to be one of my favorites, but also because we’ll be featuring it among many things on The Art of Pleasure, Steve’s collaboration with me and four Wolf Trap singers happening at the Barns at Wolf Trap on May 31 and June 1. Soprano Laura Corina Sanders will perform this with me, and that Steve has entrusted me with this gem makes my soul giddy.

I think you should come see and hear it. As Kathy Kelly once told me, “Of course you’re biased, Joseph, but I’m not sure that makes you wrong.”

“Son” starts at 10:04 into the video. The measure beginning at 11:58 encapsulates why I do what I do. To me, the music here cries out a longing, an utterly naked desire to be seen and known for one’s entire being. I don’t really know else to put it.

Joseph Li

Seattle native Joseph Li has played and coached for Houston Grand Opera, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and the Aspen Opera Theater Center. Last summer at Wolf Trap Opera he conducted Philip Glass’ chamber opera The Fall of the House of Usher in collaboration with the Halcyon Stage in Washington, D.C.; and performed in a two-piano recital alongside Steven Blier, Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song. Mr. Li joined the faculty of Baylor University’s School of Music in 2016. Recent collaborations include appearances with Minnesota Opera, Arizona Opera, Lone Star Lyric, MATCH Theater, and the Dallas Museum of Art.

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