'God forgive you, friends, for taking me away de la mas sabroso y agradable vida' ("from the most delicious and delightful life") - these are the first words Don Quixote utters after emerging from the Cave of Montesinos. Submerged in this cavern of wonders, literally a subterranean Mountain of Destiny, Don Quixote falls into a time lapse of a half hour that lasts five hundred years. Here he beholds visions of all that he impractically quests for and seeks to uphold. In a sumptuous castle of clearest crystal he encounters things and personages worthy of his archetypal idealism: countless marvels, a death-stricken, afflicted knight, courageous and noble, mourned over by the latter's loyal, beautiful beloved, as well as the his own matchless, peerless Dulcinella.
The work ... de la mas sabrosa y agradable vida... is not program music; it neither attempts nor desires a programmatic rendering of Cervantes' passages. Instead, I am drawn to the rapture and vibrancy of the Don's revelatory phrase. Thus, on the one hand, I envisioned a music that is full of ebullience, a music that scintillates and revels in its own dance. On the other hand, there is also music that emerges as a shade in this brightness, a current of uneasiness that surfaces and checks the exuberance. For indeed, upon deeper reflection, there is something disquieting about this whole affair:
Here is a madman living in a fabricated reality who descends into a real hole in the ground on the plains of La Mancha, where, in a dreamstate, he beholds his beloved Dulcinella, herself a product of Sancho Panza's lie. Then, in the ultimate coup-de-theatre, the entire episode is retracted as a non-truth by none other than the Don himself, sane and dying, at the end of the tale.
These numerous, parallel contradictions resound in music that may not only appear cautious, unsettled and perhaps even somewhat uncertain as the the genuineness of the overall gleam, but also wistful and full of longing. Yet towards what is this yearning directed? The truth of the affair? True untainted exuberance? Both? Or perhaps the musical exuberance, reflection, disquietude, and wistfulness in and of themselves are behind the truth of a most delicious and delightful life and need no further explanation. Don Quixote himself, sane or insane, reminds us that truth admits neither reply nor argument: "cuya verdad ni admite replica ni disputa."
I am deeply grateful to Max Hobart and the Civic Symphony Orchestra of Boston for bringing this music to life - and to my wife Basia, to whom this work is dedicated, all my love in this most delicious and delightful life.
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