Two Ricercari is a set of two songs on the text of Chinese immigrant H. T. Tsiang. A ricercare is a baroque musical form that was a precursor to the fugue. A ricercare could also function as a prelude for a multi-movement keyboard piece, searching out the key or mode of the work in an improvisatory way.
"Crawford Seeger's last work before the hiatus in her composing was Two Ricercari: Sacco, Vanzetti and Chinaman, Laundryman (1932), composed for a Composers' Collective concert. The texts deal with the miseries of exploited immigrants and the notorious Sacco-Vanzetti trial of 1921 (in which two Italian-Americans were executed for the murder of a guard during a robbery, for which it was widely believed they were innocent). To project the impassioned text, she combined singing with Sprechstimme (a cross between singing and speaking, where only a relative vocal contour is indicated, not specific pitches)."
--Cheryl Seltzer, Continuum, 2005
Excerpt from the Liner Notes of American Classics: Ruth Crawford Seeger (NAXOS)