• 3thn.flg.scnt+solo cnt+2cnt.2ttbn+btbn.2Bbtba+2Ebtba.2bar.2euph
  • 5 min

Programme Note

He Pole Star is a march. It is called after the Northern Lighthouse Board ship whose home port is Stromness, Orkney.

The rush of energy in Davies’s Brass Quintet (1981) went over the double bar-line into other works for the same combination, notably this march, composed in 1983 and first performed at the Dartington Summer School that year by the Albany Brass Ensemble. Like many of his smaller works, it is in a relatively lucid modal style, midway between the clarity of his carols and the complications of his symphonies: the opening is in a kind of B flat minor, and the close is triumphantly in G flat major. What happens in between — always in 4/4 march time but usually with exuberant syncopations and cross-rhythms – is a sequence of transformations of the theme heard first from the second trumpet on the top line at the start; it will be heard again from the horn, and from the first trumpet in upward-moving inversion, with brilliant climaxes to punctuate. An ebullient piece, in a simplified yet still very distinctive harmonic and rhythmic style, and surely destined to make a rousing encore item.

Paul Griffiths