The Song of Shadows (2016)
Four settings of Walter de la Mare
- The Song of Shadows
Soprano and Chamber Orchestra
fp. 10 June 2016; Kathleen Cronie, Marischal Chamber Orchestra, Chris Gray, King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen, UK
The Song of Shadows is an orchestration and enlargement of a work of mine from 2012, Two de la Mare Songs which was written for the mezzo soprano Clare McCaldin. I had always felt these two songs (‘Winter’ and ‘Autumn’) were a little on the short side for a set and had wanted to write some companion songs should the opportunity arise. In early 2016 I wrote two new songs (‘Sleep’ and ‘The Song of Shadows’) for mezzo soprano and piano, before arranging the whole set for soprano and chamber orchestra.
The Song of Shadows is one of the most romantic and yearning pieces I have written, what I initially had thought of as quite austere in the piano and voice setting has become something much more rhapsodic and colourful in the orchestral version. The work is imbued with a sense of English pastoralism, there is something wistful and resigned about the whole set from the opening line ‘Clouded with snow the cold winds blow’ to the final ‘silence where hope was’ – whether this is a response to de la Mare’s poetry or my own state of mind, I’m not sure – but there is something dark and unresolved at the heart of this piece which isn’t always apparent in my other work.