Commissioned by the Western Orchestral Society with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain. First performed by Peter Rejto, cello, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Howard Williams at Poole Arts Centre, Poole, Dorset on 20 March 1991.

  • 3(pic).2+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn/4331/timp.4perc/[cel]/str
  • cello
  • 27 min

Programme Note

The condition of exile referred to in the title of the piece is internal, while the metaphorical gardens in which to dwell contain cultivated memories of the past, back to childhood. That such a place would tend to evoke feelings tinged with wistful nostalgia and occasional sadness should come as no surprise. On the other hand, there is also:

…Joy that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!

William Wordsworth

Superimposed on this idea were my recollections of a vast expanse of semi-wild tropical gardens in Java, once part of the Dutch East Indies, in which I was allowed to play and roam freely as a child during the holidays.

The work is in one continuous movement and opens with a substantial orchestra introduction that sets the scene. A ruminative solo for cor anglais, accompanied by two clarinets, elicits a dramatic response from the full orchestra. This strongly characterized sequence leads to a series of encounters, both lyrical and more sinister, in an atmospheric landscape.

The solo cello, discretely accompanied by celesta and tuned percussion, enters the environment quietly singing, and proceeds to develop the main material.

Near the centre of the piece, a cadenza briefly interrupts an extended fast section, marked Vivace. This is followed by a gradual restatement f earlier material in reverse order, until the opening cor anglais solo finally reappears, rendered by the cello accompanied by divided violas. The music ends quietly, almost reluctantly, with a dying resolve.

Programme note © 1991 Gerard Schurmann


Schurmann: The Gardens of Exile