• Anthony Payne
  • Symphonies of Wind and Rain (1992)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Endymion Ensemble and funded by Holst Foundation

  • 112110001percstr(
  • 15 min

Programme Note

In recent years it has often seemed to me to be worth starting a piece without having any clear idea of where it might end up. Thus it was with SYMPHONIES, which I began in February 1991, the moment the opening occurred to me. In such pieces the composition proceeds in a semi-improvisatory way, which gives full rein to the inspiration of the moment. At a later stage the music that has so far been written can be consciously assessed and from then in intuitive and conscious methods proceed side by side in an attempt to achieve symphonic union.

What emerged in SYMPHONIES was an elaborate structure: the interludes were vestiges of sections typical of the symphonic/sonata form tradition, while the refrain which appears five times varies a repeated semi-quaver figure that seemed to me redolent of pattering rain. The wind of the work's title was suggested by the rushing sextuplets in one of the refrain's subsidiary ideas.

For much of the work the feeling is episodic, with just enough development and variation within or across sections to avoid a casual progress. But the final main section presents a major engagement of all the previous material, and this extensive development places the structure on a different symphonic plane, tying up loose ends and providing the work's focal point. Thus we arrive at the following structure:

A - a broad exposition of the 'rain' material with two subsidiary ideas (one suggesting 'wind') and a development.
B - slow lyrical interlude using a chant-like subject whose repeated notes derive from 'rain'.
A - a brief recapitulation.
C - fleetingly insistent semi-quaver motion which ranges widely across the ensemble.
A - an even briefer repeat.
D - a second slow lyrical interlude drawn from the refrain's subsidiary material.
E - a quodlibet which elaborates and extends all previous material.
A - a coda with final references to 'wind' and 'rain'.

SYMPHONIES OF WIND AND RAIN is dedicated to the memory of my mother, who sadly died during the course of its composition.
This piece was commissioned by Endymion Ensemble with funds from the Holst Foundation.

Anthony Payne