• S + pf
  • Soprano
  • 15 min

Programme Note

Almost 30 years before I received this wonderful co-commission, from Presteigne and Oxford Festivals, my friend and librettist Jessica Duchen sent me some of her poems. I’ve been waiting all this time for an opportunity to set them and Oxford Lieder Festival’s 2023 theme of the Visual Arts provided the perfect context, especially as I could see and hear so much colour when reading them.

Jessica has cleverly created a highly evocative narrative. This song cycle’s story is about preserving something that’s otherwise gone forever, which paintings, poetry and music can all achieve. Our heroine, touring an art gallery, leaves the official itinerary to explore a long-ago relationship through four paintings she encounters, imagining that she is stepping into a different time and place. Raindrop Prelude evokes the awakening of love, which soon proves dangerous (Playing with Fire); one or both of them ran away (Tarantella), but even now she treasures a transfigured, idealized image (Neptune). Each poem is prefaced with an introduction as she walks between the pictures.

I’m hugely grateful to George Vass (Presteigne) and Sholto Kynoch (Oxford Lieder) for commissioning this and to Jessica for her continuing inspiration.

Roxanna Panufnik, 5 April 2023


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