Stephen Hartke

TITULI (1999) for five solo male voices, violin and two percussionists Duration: 45 Minutes I. Lapis niger (The Black Stone) II. Dedicatio (Offering) III. Columna rostrata (Triumphal Monument) IV. Elogium parvuli (Epitaph for a Small Boy) V. Tabula Panormi (Shop-sign from Palermo) VI. Sortes (Oracles) VII. Instrumenta (Inscriptions on Portable Objects) Performers Countertenor, 3 Tenors, Baritone; Violin; 2 Percussionists: both perform on one 5-octave Marimba, as well as 3 Suspended Cymbals (High, Medium High, Medium), 2 Wood Blocks (Piccolo, Medium), 2 Small Shakers, 1 Medium Shaker, and 2 Cup Bells. Additionally, both Tenor 3 and Baritone have one Small Bronze Cymbal each, to be struck with a brass-headed mallet. Titulus -- tituli in the plural -- is the Latin word for an inscription or a notice. All the texts set in this work are inscriptions, either carved in stone or scratched on metal, from pre- Imperial Roman times. Thus they are not literary texts but rather represent different facets of daily life in ancient Italy in the period between 600 and 100 BCE. The first two movements set the two oldest known Latin texts, first the Lapis niger, a fragment of sacred law, followed by an offering inscribed on the bottom of a three-legged pot. Both these texts are in fact so ancient that they cannot be translated with any accuracy. The third and fourth texts are more formal: the Columna rostrata, taken from a triumphal monument celebrating the first major Roman victory in the First Punic War, and an epitaph from the grave of a small boy named Optatus (meaning 'the desired one'). A bi- lingual shop-sign from Palermo in slightly garbled Latin and Greek provides the text for the fifth movement: "Inscriptions arranged and engraved here for holy temples by public labors through we (sic)." The final two movements involve compilations of many quite short texts. Sortes is a collection of oracular texts, most of them scratched on metal foil or on rods that were used for fortune-telling. The last movement, Instrumenta, sets inscriptions from personal belongings. The first three texts are in Etruscan with the remainder in Latin, and each has either the name of the owner or of the person who presented the object as a gift.


Recording: The Hilliard Ensemble Donald Crockett, conductor ECM New Series 1861
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