David Matthews’ new piano piece for Joseph Tong will premiere at the Three Choirs Festival, Hereford on 27 July. Five Trees was co-commissioned by Joseph Tong with the generous support of John S Cohen Foundation, Three Choirs Festival, and Presteigne Festival. A Finnish premiere will follow at the Sibelius Museum in Turku on 20 August, with a subsequent performance at St. George's Bristol on 22 September. Five Trees receives its London premiere at Wigmore Hall on 25 November from Joseph Tong.

The 12-minute piece is a response to Sibelius’ Five Pieces for Piano, The Trees (1914). As the title suggests Five Trees is made of five movements representing different British trees: The Oak, The Willow, The Scots Pine, The Apple, and The English Elm.

Matthews writes of the piece,

They begin with ‘The Oak’, our national tree…is marked Maestoso – majestic – and begins with solemn chords, which are repeated in varied form at the end. Then comes ‘The Willow’, perhaps our most graceful tree. It is a gentle Allegretto, whose starting point was the Willow Song from Shakespeare’s Othello…‘The Scots Pine’ has a deliberately Scottish flavour.

‘The Apple’ is a joyful scherzo. It was the last piece to be written, in April 2022, when I could experience the lovely apple blossom. Lastly ‘The English Elm’ begins with a lament for the death of almost all our elms from Dutch Elm Disease, which I witnessed myself in the 1970s.

This summer saw the premiere of Matthews’ Shiva Dances for string quartet and string orchestra at the Elgar Festival under Kenneth Woods in June. His Sonata for oboe and piano will be premiered by Nicholas Daniel and Huw Watkins at the Presteigne Festival on 27 August; on 30 August pianist Tim Horton premieres A Fugue for Hugh. Matthews’ String Quartet No.16 will receive its world premiere at the New Paths Music Festival in Beverley, Yorkshire, on 29 September.