"now again" — fragments from Sappho

Mezzo-soprano with chamber ensemble (2006)

fl(afl) - cl(bcl) - tpt - hp - perc(vib, wdbl, b.d, mar, s.d, bngs, button gong, tam-t, cym, clav, tub bells) - vn - va - vc - sop voice - alto voice


First Performance: 2006, Philadelphia, PA, Network for New Music


The piece has a wonderful strangeness and mystery. You longed for an instant encore. As with all great pieces, so much was implied by so little.
— The Philadelphia Inquirer

The 17-minute Sappho piece shows Rands's welcome marriage of precise technique and sensuous lyricism and scoring
— Chicago Sun Times

The score ["now again" — fragments from Sappho] is less a dramatic song cycle than a reflective meditation, painting a spare, melismatic evocation of the broken, elliptical texts.Yet Rands' luminous music is consistently compelling and ear-catching, lyrical yet cast with neo-Classical restraint.
— Chicago Classical Review

RANDS Prelude - Sans voix parmi les voix - Scherzi - Walcott Songs - "now again" fragments from Sappho. Network for New Music. ALBANY 1194.

Here the long-term Network-Rands relationship results in definitive performances of seminal works by one of the world's great living composers...with whom it it has worked and partnered for many years. This isn't easy stuff to play, because it requires not only virtuosic musicianship, but also contemporary-music record these never-before-recorded but often-programmed Rands pieces.

Rands's Prelude (2004) is sublimely performed. The mystical thing about Rands's writing is that the instruments don't seem to be playing as an ensemble; rather it's as if they accidentally coincided at the same time in the same key. A gorgeous harp solo follows.

Scherzi is a playful and sensitive piece. Rands isn't difficult listening, and...the effect is almost always disarming and transporting. Rands also invents all the time...and produces a random, brittle sound but it always seems to make sense in the end.

Now Again - fragments from Sappho is the pièce de résistance. It is based on fragments of the ancient poet Sappho (fragments are just the sort of thing Rands loves). The configuration is wild, with three female voices, trumpet, a string trio, harp and percussion. In the modalized atmosphere that Rands creates, a montage of fragments somehow coalesces to create a portrait of Sappho and her ancient world. It's as much a dramatic piece as it is a musical one, but in this case it's a puzzle that comes together to form more puzzles. Underneath, however, there is a consistent poignancy that makes this three-dimensional quilt drip with humor and sadness mixed.
— Fanfare, January/February 2011

Fragments from his Sappho, sounded as if duly encased in gold. An inexpressible depth and lushness permeated the piece, and when the last notes were sounded, it was difficult to accept the finality of it, because it so engendered a desire for more. Impeccably orchestrated and lyrically powerful, it provided a satisfying closure to an unabashedly successful event.
— Justin Capps (


Now Again: Recording the Music of Bernard Rands

Now Again: Music by Bernard Rands

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