Winter Journey


solo viola
First Performance
19.02.00, Harlow Viola Festival, St John's Arts and Recreation Centre, Harlow: Sarah-Jane Bradley

B3 score 0-571-55286-2 (fp) on sale

Programme Notes

Winter Journey was originally written for solo violin in November and December 1982. This version for viola was made in 1999 for Sarah Jane Bradley. At the time that I wrote it, I was (not to get excessively autobiographical) in a state where I identified rather closely with the protagonist of Schubert's Winterreise. It seemed appropriate to base my piece on two quotations from Schubert's great song cycle: the first song, 'Gute Nacht', in which the lover says farewell to his beloved, and the seventeenth, 'Im Dorfe', about the falseness of dreams, which he spurns. These two quotations preface my score, and may or may not be played, as the performer wishes. The title of my piece is of course a translation of Winterreise. Both Schubert quotations are in D major, and Winter Journey in its original version is also grounded in D. The viola version is transposed down a fifth, so most of the piece is in a sort of G minor, but a pure G major emerges near the end, corresponding to that magical change from D minor to D major in 'Gute Nacht'. The piece is a single movement in eleven sections. The first, marked freely: quasi fantasia, is introductory, and presents much of the material of the piece in fragmentary form. In some of the middle sections I had the sound of another D minor/major masterpiece, Bach's Chaconne for solo violin, in mind. The last G major section is written almost entirely in natural harmonics, and based very closely on the phrase from 'Gute Nacht'. The ending vacillates between G major and minor, finally choosing the ambiguity of a major second chord on G and A, thus ending on the same notes as it had begun.

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