Saturday, July 7, 2007

Farewell to Stromness

Years ago, I fell in love with the music of English composer Peter Maxwell Davies. Like his friend Hans Werner Henze, Davies never forgot that music could touch the mind, soul and heart of the willing listener. Here's a rare gem of Max's: Farewell to Stromness, arranged for guitar by Timothy Walker. Like so many pieces of his compatriot Benjamin Britten, the melody of this work seems unnecessarily simple and maybe even trite, but also like Britten, the work takes quietly takes root in one's imagination long after the first hearing, becoming a constant reminder of how magical the musical experience can be. What I love about this piece is that it's so successful in creating a sense of longing and, dare it say it, homesickness for Stromness, a place most of us have never visited or will ever visit. For all of you social activist types, Davies wrote this work to protest the potential uranium mining in the Orkney islands. A perfect jewel it is, and sorely deserving of more performances.

1 comment:

Chelseagirl said...

Lovely -- thanks for that, Menon. I enjoyed seeing the images of Orkney, too.

It's also nice to be reminded that simple is difficult to do well, and it just as valuable as complicated.

Did you know that this tune is so 'authentic' sounding, as a (slowed-down) traditional strathspey, that it's made its way into the repertoire of traditional musicians at sessions?