• str
  • 8 min

Programme Note

Goddess was commissioned by the Ida Carroll Trust in memory of the Cheshire artist
Dorothy Bradford who died in July 2008 aged 90. The premiere performance was
given by Manchester Camerata, an orchestra which has a close association with the
composer, in Nantwich Parish Church, on 7 June 2009. That orchestra gave the first
performance of his Cello Concerto at the 2007 RNCM Manchester International Cello
Festival and has also given performances of his Trumpet Concerto of 1983.

The composer writes of his new work:
"In looking for a particular painting from the artist’s considerable output which to
base my new work, I was drawn to one entitled Goddess (1980), unusual for the
artist’s output in its subject matter. In a largely blue canvas it depicts a seemingly
lonely reclining female figure – sensuous, beguiling and preoccupied. I have written a
slow movement which tries to capture this haunting image in sound.
Written for a string orchestra of fifteen players, it features an important role for a
solo viola (the Goddess of the painting). Almost immediately the solo viola ‘recites’
its main motif, a three-note chromatic phrase, which constantly changes as does the
mood of the music. In turn, the music tries to reflect the different moods I felt from the
canvas – sinister, reflective, sensual, haunting, captivating, peaceful. The music
begins and ends on the pitch of A (a double bass harmonic) and is diverse in its
contrast of chromatic and diatonic harmonies. These is a strong lyrical presence
throughout, particularly towards the end of the piece where the earlier chromaticism
is turned into a simple modal melody (the Goddess motif expanded) developed over a
four-bar ground bass.

Although this work was written originally for only fifteen players, it would benefit
from being performed by a larger string group, in which case, decisions about such
matters as divisis must be left to the conductor/director. If however the work is
performed by the original-sized ensemble, with only one double bass, then the lower
divisi should be played in the passage from five bars after rehearsal figure I to K

Edward Gregson


2 Pictures for String Orchestra: No. 1. Goddess