Aftertones - Three Landscapes of Edmund Blunden

(2000)

by Colin Matthews

Description
medium voice, SATB chorus and orchestra
Duration
26
Genres
Chorus with Orchestra/Large Ensemble
Text
Edmund Blunden
Instrumentation
2.2.2.bcl.2 - 4231 - timp - perc(2) cyms/susp.cym/tam-t/TD/BD - harp - strings
Singer(s)
medium voice
Languages
English
Commission

Commissioned by The Huddersfield Choral Society with financial support from the Friends of The Huddersfield Choral Society, RMC Panel Products, Barclays Bank plc, Dent Steel, JT Ellis & Co Ltd, Chadwick Lawrence, Nichol & Pratt, Grant Thornton and Astra Zeneca plc

First Performance
20.05.00, Huddersfield Town Hall, Huddersfield: Huddersfield Choral Society/English Northern Philharmonia/Martyn Brabbins
Availability

Full score, vocal score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

Colin Matthews Aftertones Three Landscapes of Edmund Blunden for soprano solo, chorus and orchestra. Commissioned by The Huddersfield Choral Society with financial support from the Friends of The Huddersfield Choral Society, RMC Panel Products, Barclays Bank plc, Dent Steel, JT Ellis & Co Ltd, Chadwick Lawrence, Nichol & Pratt, Grant Thornton and Astra Zeneca plc. 1. Estrangement 2. Aftermath Interlude 3. Childhood Beliefs It might seem perverse to choose to set poetry of the First World War in a work commissioned for the millennium. But we cannot celebrate the twenty first century without absorbing the lessons of the twentieth; and besides, Edmund Blunden (1896 - 1974) was no conventional war poet, even though he spent more time at the front than any of his colleagues. In the midst of the horrors of the battlefield he was able to sustain a remarkable sense of landscape and place: he remained at heart a pastoral poet. In making these settings I have been particularly concerned to underline the essential gentleness of Blunden. That is not to pretend that there is no darkness: the first poem depicts a bleak war-torn landscape, yet the mood is one of nobility rather than bitterness. The central part is a dance of death, in which the poem's imagery paints an objective picture of war: almost as if removed from personal experience. A short interlude for strings and harp introduces the final part, not explicitly a war poem, but one where a pastoral childhood landscape gradually merges into something like nightmare. I have tempered the awesome vision of Blunden's final stanza by returning to the mood of the beginning, and a murmured memory of the heart-breakingly beautiful fourth verse. Blunden's (prose) memoirs were called Undertones of War, and in calling this work Aftertones I wanted both to evoke his world, and to suggest an echo from the not so distant past. Aftertones is dedicated to Martyn Brabbins and to the Huddersfield Choral Society. CM

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

Aftertones' reviews

‘… the score … seemed to bid fare for a place within a hallowed British tradition. It is the vision of a beloved landscape blasted by association with the field of France that gives an original slant of the poems chosen by Matthews, and gives the significantly titled Aftertones its interestingly different perspective from the War Requiem.’ The Sunday Times (Paul Driver), 28 May 2000 Read more

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