Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor
سعر بورصة الذهب Programme Note
Casting around for something helpful to say about my new piece, I realised that the title I'd chosen could apply to almost any symphonic work written over the last 250 years. The onset of tonality during the seventeenth century was to lead to a music that could travel through keys, and, when bidden, remain still for moments of visionary contemplation. However this was not exactly what I had in mind when I chose the title Visions and Journeys, although music's ability to move forward and intensify the static moment, even after the so called death of tonality certainly enabled me to conceive of the musical narrative of my piece.
The real reason for my choice of title was that it suggested what visual and poetic events had given birth to the thematic material for the piece, material which once pinned down would evolve into a purely musical structure. There is no extra-musical programme to explain the overall form, but much of the material came to me as a result of holidays my wife and I have spent on the Isles of Scilly, involving, as many will know, complicated train, boat and plane journeys.
The ocean swell around Scilly and the experience of being at one with it on boats of varying shapes and sizes are things of total fascination, and they influence the flooding paragraphs that build up towards the end of the work. Other ideas which grew out of the various kinds of journey the Scillies necessitate include (and of course I'm cheating here ) the wonderful sounds produced by an old steam express train, the hissing, the clanking of pistons - Dvorak is just one of a number of other composers who were similar1y fascinated. By a further extension of thought, the rushing strings of Mercury's winged flight in Holst's Planets led in my mind to a transformation of that idea which I associate with the plane journey from Landsend.
As for the visions that emerge from the various journeys, they are usually quiet and rapt, but their still surfaces are sometimes ruffled, as when after the initial journey a breeze blows through long grass, disturbing insects and petals. I attempted here a fugue of textures. rather than the traditional counterpoint of lines, so that the air is full of quiet activity.
Stravinsky famously said that music could express nothing, which of course we all know is not true. The trouble is that it expresses as many different things as there are people listening to it, and it ill behoves the commentator (which of course includes the composer himself) to insist on any one meaning for a piece of music. Roberto Gerhard is just one eminent composer who hated writing programme notes about his pieces, and certainly never said what any of them 'was about'. I increasingly sympathise with this attitude, and would only like to add that Visions and Journeys is in a single movement, and varies, develops and juxtaposes the ideas I've already mentioned along with other more or less closely related.
As a post-script, I should say that a piece is something of diary of the time taken to write it, as well as a realisation of a pure musical vision, and in the present case there was an unwanted idea that I thought at first to exclude from the work. Eventually I came to realise that it enriched the canvass, and tied the piece more strongly to life as I'd lived it during composition. Towards the close it assumes a black and catastrophic aspect.