2(II=picc).2(II=ca).2(II=bcl).2 - 4221 - timpani - perc(4): vib/xyl/glsp/t.bells/gong/tam-t/w-chimes/tgl/tamb/sandpaper blocks/cymbs/crash.cym/3 toms/SD/concert BD - celesta - harp - strings
In setting the story for a radio audience I have been aware that the same moments that leapt out at me half a century ago are the most vivid ones for me now – Mole falling in the river, the train chase, the secret passage. I have been careful to allow space for the music to breathe but also to make the story feel leisurely despite the cuts necessary to reduce it to an hour. Our characters are, I hope, tougher than their usual representations – Badger is a hard survivor, Rat is a retired ex-serviceman (hence a burrow full of weapons), Mole is a feisty and quick learner, Toad is enthusiastic but definitely not an idiot – together they interact with their world through the music which provides all the other sound in the piece, from a running river to a speeding train, a rifle shot to a scrubbing brush, the sudden glare of a sunrise to the dark mystery of an underground city. The score is the caravan, the car, the prison, the Wild Wood and the Great God Pan. It is the set, costumes, lighting and special effects – oh, and it’s also the sound.
I have also tried to only use Kenneth Grahame’s words in the dialogue – I have added a song of my own and a couple of passing comments but in general the characters speak with his own voice and the orchestra and singers do the rest. The orchestra is a wonderful, moving canvas on which to project this story – it is flexible, powerful but always engaging, giving the characters a background which is their space, their thoughts, their narrative – as such it sounds very close to film music and I hope the end result of this performance will be to provide the listeners with the perfect soundtrack for the pictures that will appear in their heads. We all have our ‘perfect’ Toad, Rat, Mole and Badger – I hope this performance will allow our imaginations to ‘see’ them.