Head of Orpheus, The


by Nicholas Maw

soprano and two clarinets
Mixed Chamber Ensemble, Soprano
Robert Kelly
First Performance
20.11.92, Children in Need day, Pebble Mill,Birmingham: Composers Ensemble/Mary Wiegold/DominicMuldowney

Playing score 0-571-55311-7 (fp) on sale

Programme Notes

The Head of Orpheus (1992) is a setting of a poem by the American poet Robert Kelly for high voice and two clarinets. Written for Mary Wiegold and the Composers Ensemble, it was first performed by them on 20 November 1992 at Pebble Mill, Birmingham as part of the Children in Need Day. The score is prefaced by a chord from Act III Scene 4 of Berg’s Wozzeck and it is this source that provides the work with much of its harmonic and melodic material. Like Orpheus himself the vocal line wanders in an almost detached manner around the predominantly arabesque-like clarinet lines (the Maenads of the myth), lending to the work a further dramatic level. Following a return to the opening clarinet material, an almost disinterested parlando passage for voice brings the work to a sudden close. The Head of Orpheus was written in memory of Stephen Oliver. Nicholas Maw

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