The Flight of Bitter Water


Duration 16’00
Instrumentation 2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2(II=bcl).2(II=dbn) – 2.2.2(btbn).1 – perc(1) – harp – strings ( *Strings could be reduced to to allow for an orchestra of 50 players
First Performance 28 February 2021; Youth Symphony Orchestra of Russia, conducted by Yuri Bashmet; Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi
Commissioned by Winter International Arts Festival in Sochi and ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Further Performances
3.02.22 Musikverein Wien; Marin Alsop conductor, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
Charlotte has a worldwide, exclusive publishing agreement with Birdsong
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Pre-pandemic lockdown, the work opens in a blaze of activity mimicking the chaotic noise of a busy city, bursts of colour, noise and rapid movement. Then – a sudden standstill – before proceeding with a dark, ominous slow section: the melody in basses, tuba, bass trombone and contra bassoon. This section transfigures into a fragmented and disembodied passage with pizzicato melodies, then duos and trios. The movement, twists, turns, mutates and spreads like an unchecked contagion, above low, slow-moving bass chords. Yet here, one hears a glimmer of hope as the world slows: nature is given a chance to bloom more vibrantly than before and birdsong is ever brighter. Closing, the slow, menacing section returns, chords scattering throughout the range of the orchestra and the melody, previously heard at depth, is raised to mid-low range: violas, cellos, trombone, bassoon and bass clarinet.

The second segment opens ghostly, quiet, and slow with the melodies floating and surging on soft, lush chords. Whispering, they carry the sighs of the ailing and the dying, through-composed.

The grip of the virus resonates in the shimmering, shivering tremolos, with bells ringing and repeated figures. This frenetic scene gives way to an introverted, sinister second section, with duets and trios, reminiscent of movement one. A dark enemy: the musical lines fracture and discordantly resist and battle each other. It’s a lyrical rampage that, in sympathy with the opening of this movement, becomes increasingly agitated. This frenzy rises to an excoriating point before the theme returns, blazing to the end.