Paradise Haunts... (chamber music)

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Length / year

22' - 1995

Instrumentation

vln/pfte

Performance history

World Premiere
St. Davids Hall, Cardiff
3rd October 1995
Thomas Bowes - violin
Eleanor Alberga - piano
(Recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3, 22nd Dec 1995)

American Premiere
Longy School of Music, Boston, USA
31st January 1996
Thomas Bowes - violin
Eleanor Alberga - piano

Canadian Premiere
Banff Festival of the Arts, Eric Harvie Theatre, Banff, Canada
4th August 1996
Krista Buckland - violin
Michael McMahon - piano

Irish Premiere
Eigse Carlow Festival
June 2003
Rakhi Singh - violin
Iwan Llewelyn Jones - piano

Programme note

Like many others I was fascinated when in June 1995 the book about film-maker Derek Jarman's garden was published. In the last few years of his life he had devoted great love and care to it and it had obviously been a source of great inspiration during his final illness. One image, in particular, sticks in my mind: a photograph of Jarman dressed entirely in black against a background of brilliant colour. Contrasts abounded - between exotic plant species and driftwood sculpture, the austere beauty of the Kent coast and the dominating presence of the nearby nuclear power station. One quotation in the book was also memorable: "paradise haunts gardens and it haunts mine".

I, too, have a love of gardens and though my wild garden on the banks of the River Teifi is very different from Jarman's, this source was the inspiration for the piece. The title also reflects on the sense of the metaphysical which exists in gardens and which other commentators have noted.

The work is in a single movement, a little over twenty minutes long. Like another work from the same period, 'Rest in Reason, Move in Passion', it is built on the sparest of material - a simple four note bass with entirely 'white note' harmony throughout. This material is used in strict variation form with many contrasts and changes of mood. The writing for the instruments, especially the violin, employs much colour and variety and is at times virtuosic.

Since its premiere, the work has been performed in many countries and it has been recorded by Caroline Balding on Lorelt. I also made a version of the piece with orchestra which was given its first performance in 1999. This version was recorded by Thomas Bowes with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Grant Llewelyn, in December 2006 for release on Signum Classics in the autumn of 2007.