Poker’s Despondent Rapture

Poker’s Despondent Rapture (2011) (2′)
May 9, 2011

Chaz Lee, baritone; Noah Fields, viola; Jacob Walls, trumpet

I’m interested in how musicians create and sustain drama. For this trio of odds and ends I lifted some text from Charles Dickens’s manuscripts. The “Sapsea Fragment” pertains to his last, unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Never incorporated into the novel, the fragment represents one of Dickens’s improvisations. A minor character by the name of Mr. Sapsea is leaving a clubroom and encounters a groveling figure who goes by the name of Poker. Dickens ratchets up the drama with each line, leaving Poker to struggle in a “despondent rapture” just trying to communicate something to Mr. Sapsea–but then Dickens realizes he has fallen over the edge, making too much out of nothing and trailing off at the word “Or…” With this piece I wanted to ratchet up a little drama from modest materials–nothing too heavy–and steer just clear of falling over the edge.

Text (excerpts from the Sapsea Fragment)

Pardon me, Mr. Sapsea; you appear warm, Sir.

Your penetration is so acute, your glance into the souls of your fellow men is so penetrating, that if I was hardy enough to deny that my name was Poker, what would it avail me?

Disguise from you is impossible. You know already that I come from somewhere, and am going somewhere else. If I was to deny it, what would it avail me?

Or,

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