soprano (or tenor) soloist, satb choir and percussion
Sometimes all it takes is a word, a single note, a chord, an image, a rhythmic or melodic motive, as the starting point for a whole musical work. Other times, the work is born out of a conjugation of multiple factors, ideas and interests. Pietà is of the later kind. It mixes the art of Paula Rego, the poetry of Miguel Torga, and the mountains of Lousã, a small town in central Portugal where I was born and currently live.
The idea for this work began when in 2003 I discovered the pastel drawings by Paula Rego for the Chapel of the Belém Palace, official residence of the Portuguese President, commissioned by the then President, Jorge Sampaio. In those works, Paula Rego depicts moments in the life of Mary of Nazareth, mother of Jesus, in a hiper-natural style with figures from today. At that moment I thought of composing a kind of “stabat mater” in the same spirit as the drawings, each section, in some way representing each of the eight drawings. I began looking for appropriate texts, which took me to the poetry of Miguel Torga. However the project was put to the side and only recently, after returning to Lousã, where there is a sanctuary and cult following of “Our Lady of Piety”, did I complete the work as a tribute to my ancestors who built that sanctuary on a hill of schist stone and deep green moss, hidden in the middle of the mountains.
Pietà, also the title of Miguel Torga's poem, is the first of the eight sections that I completed, the other sections await the conjugation of other factors to join Pietà.
Vejo-te ainda, Mãe, de olhar parado,
Da pedra e da tristeza, no teu canto,
Comigo ao colo, morto e nu, gelado,
Embrulhado nas dobras do teu manto.
Sobre o golpe sem fundo do meu lado
Ia caindo o rio do teu pranto;
E o meu corpo pasmava, amortalhado,
De um rio amargo que adoçava tanto.
Depois, a noite de uma outra vida
Veio descendo lenta, apetecida
Pela terra-polar de que me fiz;
Mas o teu pranto, pela noite além,
Seiva do mundo, ia caindo, Mãe,
Na sepultura fria da raiz.
Lisboa, Cadeia do Aljube, Natal de 1939 - Como se fosse ainda em S. Pedro de Roma
Miguel Torga (Do livro: Diário X, s/editora, 1966, Coimbra)