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Music Text

Text by Randolph Stow (E,F,G)


football rattle/SD/bell tree/BD and cym with foot pedal/sandpaper/
glass wind chimes/police whistle/bosun's whistle/chamois leather
rubbed on glass/balloon to pop/thunder sheet(tam-t)/glsp/marimba/crot
-pft(=balloon)-vln.vlc-4metronomes set in motion by the players

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
Town Hall, Adelaide
Mary Thomas, mezzo-soprano
Conductor: Peter Maxwell Davies
Company: The Fires of London



Miss Donnithorne was an Australian lady, apparently one of the models for Miss Havisham in Dickens's Great Expectations; jilted at the last minute, she became a recluse, and the piece discovers her ranting among the remnants of her wedding cake, which is decorated with instrumentalists. Like Maxwell Davies's mad king, she has eight songs, though the fifth is a nocturne-interlude sung for her by the alto flute. Also as in the earlier work, the solo part is a tour de force of vocal effects, requiring a range of three octaves, though Miss Donnithorne is generally more songful in her madness than George III. The temperature of the ensemble music is also a little lower, more controlled, perhaps more lady-like, if still expecting wildly brilliant execution.
Paul Griffiths


Comic, Dramatic


Contemporary, History, Literary, Relationships

Recommended Recording

Mary Thomas, The Fires of London, Peter Maxwell Davies
Unicorn-Kanchana DKPCD9052

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