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Manchester University Concert Hall, Manchester Manchester University New Music Ensemble / James MacMillan
1. The Hermit’s Mountain Cave 2. The Awakening of Sylvan Children
The titles of these two short movements come from George Mackay Brown’s poem Further than Hoy and my intention was to recreate my impressions of the poem musically. The first piece opens with stark and craggy outbursts and flurries. The oboe dominates but the other instruments clamour to interject with increasing force. The frantic nature of the music diminishes to a sustained chord on horn, bassoon and cello accompanied by an insistent, repetitive ‘ticking’ effect on the marimba. The upper wind instruments rise gradually on a mournful, lyrical phrase to their highest registers before the music subsides to an uneasy, ambiguous coda.
The second piece begins with deep percussion sounds on which instrumental pitches are gradually layered. Gently surging, sustained notes and chords sweep the music upwards calmly before flute, marimba and oboe introduce a sprightlier, dance-like material. Loud, stark unison outbursts lead to a livelier, more emphatic ‘dance’ idea before everything is once again submerged in the opening tranquillity.
James MacMillan, March 1998
Reproduction Rights This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer