2(II=bfl+picc).2.2(II=bcl).1.cbsn - 2210 - perc(1): 5 pitched gongs/mar/vib/pair of bongos/BD/tam-t/vibraslap - harp - strings (min.


Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

I.          I have known everything
II.         Monstrous marionettes
III.        I am tired of myself tonight

When first thinking about this song cycle, I knew I wanted to set the words of Oscar Wilde –to tap into the lightness, playfulness and sheer fleet-footed élan that burst from the seams of his finest work. I couldn’t find the right text, however. A lot of his poetry was too restrictive and tight in rhyme and rhythm, and in its tone seemed – for want of a better word – far more ‘Earnest’ than the plays. I therefore set about creating my own Wilde poetry by extracting sentences and phrases from his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and arranging them to form three poems.
The result, however, was not quite the ‘delicate bubble of fancy’ that I had initially intended, though it seemed right to make a piece out of. Although it has, on a sentence level, all the linguistic elegance of Wilde, in tone it is more surrealist, and in parts much darker. The first poem’s narrator reels off a series of facts and pieces of wisdom almost at random – the second poem depicts a scene between a capricious lady and a sleazy, manipulative man – and the final poem sees the now world-weary narrator wishing she could ‘be somebody else’.


‘Balletic, full of leaping patterns of harp and gong and plucked strings... clever and ear-tickling’
The Daily Telegraph (Ivan Hewett), 14 June 2015
‘Promising and very successful...( remarkably sung by soprano Claire Booth)’
Le Monde (Marie-Aude Roux), 20 June 2015
‘Coult scored a vibrant triumph with his Beautiful Caged Thing… it was music of opulent but disciplined allure that promised much for the future. In fact, it made for one of those classic first encounters that feels as if one is in at the beginning of something truly significant.’
The Catholic Herald (Michael White), 25 June 2015
‘Full of striking effects’
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 16 June 2015


Beautiful Caged Thing

St Alfege Church, Greenwich (London, United Kingdom)

St Paul's Sinfonia/Philippa Boyle/Andrew Morley

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Beautiful Caged Thing

MediaCityUK (Salford, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom)

Anna Dennis/BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Andrew Gourlay

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Beautiful Caged Thing

Snape Maltings Concert Hall (Snape, Suffolk, United Kingdom)

Claire Booth/Mahler Chamber Orchestra/George Benjamin