Written whilst Composer-in-Residence with BCMG 2009/10
8.6.10 Royal College of Music, London, Will Oinn
26.9.15 Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival, Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, Nicholas Daniel
James Turnbull: Airs, Blues and Dances, July 2016
Late Snow was inspired by the poem of the same name by M.R. Peacocke. The first movement loosely sets the text of the poem as a melodic line- a song without words. The composer uses subtle word-painting in places, for example, when the poets talks of rooks crying, ‘high up there’. The mood is mournful, becoming rich and impassioned, before a quieter delicate phrase, which grows to the height of the movement. Melting away again, the anguished opening melody is restated.
Fragments of the poem are used as a muse for the following movements. Comprised of elegant gestures, the second movement ‘shrinking away like snow’ challenges the soloist in terms playing smoothly through the register changes. The body of the movement is agile and playful in character, before a quiet reflective end. The urgency of movement three reflects the line taken for its inspiration, ‘And suddenly your absence’. After a strikingly frosty opening section, the music tumbles and flows through fast runs, ascending and descending, tangling itself up as if in torment, reflecting the feeling of something precious coming to an end: ‘because the time we have is shrinking away like snow.’.