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Judith Weir

Publisher: Chester Music

The welcome arrival of rain (2001)
commissioned by The Minnesota Orchestra on the occasion of the Orchestra’s Centennial
Chester Music Ltd
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
16 Minutes
Programme Note
Judith Weir The welcome arrival of rain (2001)
This profuse and exuberant piece arose out of bare beginnings; a scale passage followed by a simple melody. Whilst I composed it, as the notes and the pages multiplied, I began to think of a comparison with the arrival of the monsoon in India, when aridity is pierced by life-giving rain; and humans, animals and vegetation revel in sudden activity and fertility. Although the monsoon is expected yearly, its arrival is always joyously surprising. The music¹s title was inspired by a passage from the 18,000 verse Hindu text, Bhagavata Purana ( quoted in the score.)

A 6-phrase scale pattern is heard at the beginning of the piece in highly compressed forms; in rushing passages for the winds and as chords for the solo strings. Then an 8-phrase melody is heard in a lush and spacious version where strings predominate above horns and trumpets. From here on, these two melodic sources are alternated as the basis of melody and harmony, right up to the utterly energetic culmination where both melodies are heard together with their respective variations; there follows a gentle, rainy coda. A prominent solo for the drum section (rototoms, tomtoms and timpani) starts in the middle of the piece and reinforces the ever-growing energy of the music.

The welcome arrival of rain (duration 16 minutes) was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra on the occasion of the orchestra¹s centennial, and written during 2001-1. It was first performed on 22 January 2003 by the Minnesota Orchestra conducted by Osmo Vanska.

Preview the score

  • Ensemble
    BBC Symphony Chorus / BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Ailish Tynan, soprano
    Martyn Brabbins
… the downpour is some time in coming, but you certainly know when it does: the violins suggest the plop of raindrops by hitting the strings with the bow, while drums recreate rolls of thunder. The ending to this piece, in part inspired by a Hindu text about the monsoon, has a sweet freshness to it…The music is certainly written with a virtuoso flourish, with plenty of instrumental colour and atmosphere.
Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph,11/08/2003
Volkov began this Prom with the British premiere of Judith Weir's The Welcome Arrival of Rain, which his predecessor, Osmo Vanska, introduced last year. Inspired by a passage in the Hindu Bhagavata Purana, the elements of Weir's quarter-hour orchestral evocation seem simple enough - a recurrent Janacek-like brass refrain, a pattering of drums that sets in halfway through and gets more insistent, a pawky trio of bassoons, sky-bound flutes, flaring clarinets - but these ingredients are combined in unexpected ways, through sly orchestral doublings and sleights of pacing. It is an enchanting piece.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,09/08/2003
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