Instrumentation

2222 – 4431 – Per(1): t.bells – strings (8.6.5.5.3)

Availability

Score on special sale from the Hire Library, and parts for hire

Programme Notes

Commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Peter Oundjian, Music Director, with financial support from the Government of Canada for performances during the 150thAnniversary of the Confederation of Canada, March 2017.

Music and Trance: Plato’s Theory.
“Dealing with exercises that should be used to form the souls of very young boys, Plato examines the methods of raising infants, and, in this context, advocates the virtues of continuous movement...especially in the case of the newborn ‘because it is as if they were always navigating.’

 “Experience, he says, has brought home the advantages of this method to ‘those who nurse small children’ as well as – and here we come to the passage that interests us – ‘to the women who ritualize in the healing of the Corybantes. For when mothers have children who suffer from insomnia and want to go to sleep, lull them to rest, they bring them not stillness, but this very movement, for they rock them ceaselessly in their arms, they bring them not silence, but melody...’

“The reason behind this, Plato goes on, is that ‘the sufferings of both are, in brief, frights; frights that come from a defective disposition of the soul. So whenever one applies an external shaking to sufferings of this kind, the external movement overpowers the internal movement of fear and madness, and by thus overpowering it, it brings about a manifest calm in the soul and a cessation of the grievous palpitations of the heart...’” (quoted from Music and Trance, Gilbert Rouget, 1985)

The melody used here is a replication of Catalonian cellist Gaspar Cassadó’s recorded performance of Tchaikovsky’s Valse Sentimentale. The transcription reproduces Cassadó's entrancingly idiosyncratic pushing-and-pulling of tempo and phrase.

Round is dedicated to Eamonn Quinn, with much thanks

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