The Vocal Œuvre of Robert Helps

The Running Sun (1972) [for soprano & piano]

 — James Purdy’s rare collection of deceptively simply poems provides the texts for this cycle of five songs. Helps’ vocal writing is closely informed by his long partnerships with sopranos Jean Hakes, Helen Boatwright, and, of course, Bethany Beardslee.
Like the great French mélodies Helps adored, his music uses the full range of the voice for color and communication, rather than empty bel canto gyrations. (Which he loved as well! He famously mused: “I infinitely prefer glib virtuosity to forced profundity.” This opens the fascinating possibility of “glib profundity...”) The piano accompaniment of The Running Sun is a model of restraint.

Duration: 8 minutes

I — “We who are under the ground...”
for J. Hakes
II —“When the chief shepherd counts his sheep...”
for M. Long Adams
III — “I miss you in the evening hours...”
for H. Boatwright
IV — “All along the meadow and all along the stream...”
for B. Beardslee
V — “... and there is so much more than could be said...”
for J. Purdy
A signature moment in The Running Sun
Listen to movement III

performed by Bethany Beardslee & Robert Helps
Sound clip - The Running Sun