‘Methodically crafted yet bewitchingly original.’ The Guardian (Hugh Morris), 8 November 2021
2(II=picc+afl).2(II=ca).2(II=bcl).1.cbsn – 2.2.1.btrbn.0 – timp – perc(2) I: mar/t.bells/5 tpl.bl/tgl/rain stick. II: vib/5 wdbl – harp – pno – strings(220.127.116.11.4 recommended strength)
Score and parts in preparation
I – Starting to rain – Zennyo Ryūō appears
II – Dyeing the lake blue for Queen Victoria
III – Francesco Landini serenades the birds
IV – The art of setting stones
The four movements of Pleasure Garden take inspiration from various images and stories about constructed ‘natural spaces’ in and around cities. These images and stories sparked off initial musical ideas, but composition then proceeded along its own musical logic rather than each movement necessarily ‘telling a story’.
In the 9th century, there was a rain-making contest at the ‘Sacred Spring Garden’ of Kyoto’s Imperial Palace. The priests Kūkai and Shubin were ordered to make rain appear – Kūkai won the contest by summoning the Dragon Queen Zennyo Ryūō, who brought storms and torrential rain. In this movement there is often the sense of light drops of rain giving way to a deluge as the enormous monster appears.
Worsley New Hall, the Gothic mansion whose grounds are now home to the new RHS Bridgewater in Salford, was visited by Queen Victoria in 1851. She and her party arrived by boat on the Bridgewater Canal, which had been dyed blue to mark her visit. As it contained iron ore from nearby mines, the water was already stained orange, so the resultant colour was more of a green. I can picture the dye slowly soaking in, beginning to mingle with the water.
Francesco Landini was a 14th century Italian musician, whose organetto playing was extremely beautiful. He was asked, when with friends at Florence’s Paradiso gardens, to settle a bet. When he played his organetto, would the garden’s many birds sing more, or less? He played his beautiful song – at first the birds became silent, but as he played on, they fluttered down and sung more and more, becoming cacophonous. Eventually they subsided and one bird flew down and perched on his head.
Japanese rock gardens are constructed around artful arrangements of rocks, and raked gravel or sand to evoke water. There are rules, sometimes strict, for the placement of rocks – often these are to encourage an overall sense of harmony, without ever arranging things symmetrically. These rules use the principles of ishi wo tateru koto (‘the art of setting stones’).
‘Methodically crafted yet bewitchingly original.’
The Guardian (Hugh Morris), 8 November 2021
‘…one wonder followed another… Coult’s engaging playfulness and lively ear for instrumental colours never let the listener down.’
The Times (Geoff Brown), 8 November 2021