Forsaken

orchestra
2021

Duration 21’00
Instrumentation 2(I&II=picc).2 (II=Ca).2.2(II=Contra) – 2.2.1.0 – perc(1) – harp – strings (min.12.10.8.6.4)
First Performance 14 June 2022; Philharmonischen Orchesters Hagen, conducted by Joseph Trafton
Commissioned by Philharmonischen Orchesters Hagen
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Through this work, in six movements, I seek to render the light and beauty of an icy landscape, exploring musically the paradoxical nature of glaciers — stable yet fragile. The work is influenced, in part, by the striking artwork of Zaria Forman, painting in pastels from photographs taken of ice-scapes, particularly her work Disco Bay, which depicts a place in Greenland that inspired me during a visit in 2016.

The first movement, Where Icebergs Dance Away, is majestic and mysterious with a powerful presence. Luxuriant, icy chords open the work, then melt capriciously with descending moIfs and sporadic splashes of colour in the flute, piccolo, harp and tuned percussion. The opening then succumbs to a playful, lively section — layers building, melodies alternating, at times spiky, at times smooth and soaring, sculpted and fashioned by the harsh winds. Accompanying textural and rhythmic material augments the covering — prickly chords and briale pizzicato pick away at the ice as wintry, luminescent figures dance enraptured. The solid, seemingly impenetrable wall of ice returns in the material from the opening section, now more forbidding and portentous.

Either side of the third movement, The Evaporation of Silence, sit Unforgiven I and II, bold and vigorous short movements. With ferocity, shifting layers of sound collide in these dark, enraged interludes. A sense of upheaval and constant motion illuminates stormy seas and imminent destruction. Then, the gentle pulsating of ocean waves utterly shifts the pace in The Evaporation of Silence and washes of colour, reflecIons from the water, and ice-cold chords hang in the air.

The fifth movement, Where Ice Weeps, resonates with suspense — featuring a ‘crying’ motif — the material spilling and trickling through the orchestra like tears. Cold and despairing, the music is alert and nervous, ending with an unabated melodic section, in which a solitary voice passes around the orchestra, descending into the growling depths which underpin the last movement. Strong and vivacious, the final movement, Hear My Voice, cries at the urgency of global warming, fires burning, the planet in turmoil and power verses the inherent fragility of our natural world.