Performed with Jonathan Singer
The title Black Sails evokes two very contrasting images for me: the myth of Tristan and Isolde, and…. pirates. In some versions of the Tristan myth, as Tristan lies dying, he waits for new that his love Isolde the Fair is returning to him on approaching ship. He asks a female companion (sometimes his wife or would-be lover, coincidentally name Isolde of the White Hands) if the sails on the ship are white (meaning Isolde is coming) or black (meaning she refused to come). Though the sails are white, Tristan’s ‘other woman’ tells him they are black out of jealousy. He despairs and soon dies of a broken heart. The imagery of the approaching ship and the spite of Isolde of the White Hands were the original inspiration of the piece. Yet, the thought of pirates quickly crept in. Either way, dark emotions and ominous intensity are mixed with nautical images in the music.