Mangrove

(1979)

by Peter Sculthorpe

Description
brass, percussion and strings, with optional didjeridu
Duration
14
Genres
Small Orchestra, Solo Instruments with Orchestra
Instrumentation
0000 - 4231 - perc(3): bongos/2 congas/tam-t/ch.cym/vib/susp.cym/BD/crot - strings
First Performance
27.4.79, Opera House, Sydney : Sydney Symphony Orchestra/Louis Fremaux
Availability

Score 0-571-50631-3 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
In deciding upon Mangrove as the title of this work I did not wish literally to describe a mangrove in music. In fact, lest I were tempted to write sounds of water and rain, I omitted wind instruments and harp from the score. My main concern in writing the work was with crystalizing my feelings about this maritime tree, with its extraordinary root system and its life-giving properties. The title, then, finds many resonances in my mind: memories of a time spent among mangroves on an island off the northeastern coast of Australia and thoughts of the rain forest on this island, where, in the nineteenth century, an English gentlewoman and a convict became lovers, a well-known Australian story. The title also brings thoughts of paintings in which these tow, through love, become birds, butterflies and aboriginal graffiti. It even brings recollections of a beach, mangrove-free, in Japan, and thoughts of a New Guinea tribe that believes man and woman to be descended from the mangrove. The work is in one long movement, consisting of spirited sections scored for brass and percussion, and sections in which a long brooding melody becomes out of phase with itself. This melody is based upon Ise-no-Umi, one of the six remaining gagaku-patterned folk songs of the Early Heian Period (794-897), known as saibara. It is first played by cellos and later, at the end of the work, by brass. In addition, there are sections suggesting love and loving, scored, for the most part, for strings; and strings also play bird-sounds, the only music in the work that is overtly descriptive. I might add that early in 1967 I stayed at an artists’ retreat in the United States. While there, writing my orchestral piece Sun Music III, I was visited every day by an enormous tropical woodpecker, along with other birds. Somehow the sounds of birds found their way into the piece; and in one form or another they have found their way into most of my orchestral pieces written since that time. Peter Sculthorpe

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News & Reviews

'Mangrove' reviews

‘Lush and pictorial, it consisted of sharply defined sections that courted the charge of mere exoticism - evocations of Oriental musics and sounds, full of throbbing strings, rapidly reiterated percussion and all manner of aural colour presumably inspired by alien cultures. But Mr Sculthorpe is no simple-minded purloiner of sonic artifacts; his piece coheres into a statement by a distinctive composer with something interesting and evocative to say’. The New York Times (USA) (John Rockwell), 10 Read more

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