- For SATB chorus and soprano saxophone; secular text (free translation of Victor Hugo’s “Aimons toujours!”)
- Length: 5:45
- Difficulty rating (1-5): 4
Listen to excerpts from the Navona Records release There Are Many Other Legends (track 14), performed by the New Hampshire Master Chorale (Dan Perkins, conductor), with soprano saxophone soloist Rik Pfenninger.
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Love Always! was commissioned and premiered by the New Hampshire Master Chorale (Dan Perkins, Music Director). When Dan and I discussed potential works for the Master Chorale's concerts centered on France, our ideas began to coalesce around two distinct compositions for it—one involving some straight-ahead jazz (see Waltzes About France), and one in a more standard vein. I knew that the Master Chorale would be joined by a quartet featuring a saxophonist (an instrument born in France), so I began thinking about a “non-jazz” work for chorus and soprano saxophone, featuring a translated French text. Several sources pointed me to Victor Hugo’s powerful poem “Aimons toujours! Aimons encore!”—I fell in love with the text, and ultimately (and perhaps foolhardily!) made my own free translation of it for the piece, entitled Love Always! after the first words of Hugo’s text.
Love always! Love still!
When love departs, hope flies away.
Love is the shout of the dawn.
Love is the hymn of the night.
What the tide says to the shore,
what the wind says to the old mountains,
what the star says to the clouds,
is that indescribable word: Love!
Let us always love more,
more united each day!
May our souls grow in love
like the trees’ innumerable leaves!
We are the mirror and the reflection!
We are the flower and the perfume!
Two lovers who, alone in shadow,
Come to me!
Come to me, my happiness, my law!
Angel! Come to me when you sing,
and, when you weep, come to me!
Ambition, subtle inferno
burning in our minds,
falls as ash or flies as smoke,
and we say to ourselves, "What's left?"
Fleeting pleasure, barely-budded flower
in this dark and tarnished April,
loses its petals and dies,
and we say to ourselves, "That’s it?"
Love alone remains!
If you want, on this base journey,
to guard your faith, to save your soul,
to keep your God, keep love!
Even though you cry and suffer,
preserve in your heart
the flame that cannot perish,
and the flower that cannot die!
I would gladly trade the riches
that intoxicate the bandit or king
for the shadow you cast on my book
when your face bends down over me.
—freely translated from Victor Hugo, “Aimons toujours! Aimons encore!” (Les Contemplations, 1856)