For Wigmore Hall Lockdown Commissions 2020:
In isolation there are no chance meetings… no bumping into each other on the street… no stolen glances. Even something as casual as meeting for coffee has to be rigidly scheduled in our calendars; every last minute is defined digitally.
This poem, A Moment by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge, explores a simple gesture; two characters speaking perhaps at once. The first voice is lost in nature, the second voice yearns unnoticed for the first. Coleridge describes a fleeting moment which has been stolen from us in this time of isolation.
This short song, set for mezzo and baritone duo, is composed as a musical equivalent of a haiku; a transient episode of simple statements and overlapping stories which sound like individual songs sung at once. A lullaby phrase in the piano is interrupted by sparkling glitches… the call of birds… filigree ornaments…
The clouds had made a crimson crown
About the mountains high.
The stormy sun was going down
In a stormy sky.
Why did you let your eyes so rest on me,
And hold your breath between?
In all the ages this can never be
As if it had not been.
This duet was written for Helen Charlston's 'Isolation Songbook', and premiered in St Pancras Clocktower London, presented by City Music Foundation. I am delighted that Helen, Michael and Alexander have since recorded the concert which will be released in March 2021 on the Delphian Records label.