Large orchestra: 3 Flutes (2nd doubling Alto flute and 2nd Piccolo, 3rd doubling 1st Piccolo), 2 Oboes, Cor anglais, 3 Clarinets (1st in B flat, 2nd in A doubling E flat Clarinet, 3rd in B flat doubling Bass clarinet), 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon; 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba; Timpani, Percussion (5 players); Celesta, 2 Harps; Strings. | Duration: 44 minutes
Commissioned by the BBC and first performed on 17th November 2007 at St David’s Hall, Cardiff by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac van Steen. Begun in 2006 and completed in September 2007, this is the first large orchestral piece from Giles Swayne since The song of Leviathan of 1988. It stems from the composer’s fury that the human race has so maltreated the planet. The dogs of war is a long, increasingly savage movement which conveys the restlessly destructive power of human activity. In Silent Spring a treacly, insidious waltz gradually invades and destroys a forest dawn-chorus. Near the end, each creature sings one last desperate phrase; each is chopped down by a killer blow from the orchestra. The finale, Threnody, is a lament for Man’s extinction. It begins with a piccolo – the last bird in the world – singing its heart out in a dead landscape. Eight variations follow, the last of which is a passacaglia with eight short variations of its own – which return us to the melody of the opening.
2 Flutes (2nd doubling Piccolo), 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets (1st in B flat, 2nd in A), 2 Bassoons; 4 Horns (2 in B flat alto, 2 in E), 2 Trumpets (1st in E flat, 2nd in D); Timpani; Strings | Duration: 12 minutes
Composed in December 2005 during a residency at the Abbaye aux Dames in Saintes, France, and first performed in Bruges, Bruxelles and Paris in November 2006 by the Jeune Orchestre Atlantique conducted by Sigiswald Kuijken. Cast in a single movement, it was designed to show off the skills of this young period–instrument orchestra, and is scored for natural horns and trumpets, with woodwind, strings and timpani as used in the 1820s.
A one – movement concert overture, written in 1984 after a visit to friends in Prague, and dedicated to the people of that beautiful city. The spiritual warmth characteristic of Smetana, Dvorák & Martinu gradually sweeps away harsher and more impersonal music.
Written 1978–9. A ballet in six movements. The boy of the title, isolated at the start, sets off optimistically to change the world; dances with different characters, endures trials and disappointments, and eventually finds his true identity. The character of the boy is played by two identical dancers who merge at the end. An absorbing allegory about coming out as a gay man.