• Jonathan Harvey
  • Transformations Of 'Love Bade Me Welcome' (1968)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • Clarinet/pf
  • 11 min

Programme Note

This work was written for and dedicated to Alan Hacker, who, with the pianist Ian Lake, gave the first performance in 1968. It opens with a transcription of a setting Harvey had made earlier of George Herbert's poem, originally for six voice consort. The composer states that this forms the structural and poetic background of the work: in fact it does rather more than this.

Without ever exactly or even approximately repeating the melodic material, he draws upon it in a rather oblique way, taking small cells or groups of intervals, divorcing them from their harmonic implications and treating them, on their own thematic terms at least, independently of their original presentation. Except that the opening dozen-or-so bars define the shape and emotional base of the work, the transformations have very much a life of their own, unfolding according to their own dictates into seemingly quite remote areas. Although brief - the piece lasts about ten minutes - it covers an enormous dynamic range and exploits the thematic material with great resource and imagination. The various sections follow without a break, as the content of each grows organically from the preceding one. For all its variety the feeling is very much of cohesion, self-contained as far as the original theme is concerned, while Herbert's spiritual, mystical vision is always present to unify it at a deeper level.

© 1985 Giles Easterbrook