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Poul Ruders

Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen

Final Nightshade (2003)
Work Notes
til New York Philh. Uropføres 10/6-2004
Wilhelm Hansen
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
19 Minutes
Programme Note
Poul Ruders Final Nightshade (2003)
Final Nightshade – An Adagio of the Night

This piece marks the conclusion of what could now be called The Nightshade Trilogy, three pieces which explore the contrasting worlds of Light and Darkness. As opposed to the earlier chamber work Nightshade, which dealt with extremes of high and low pitches, and the chamber orchestra composition Second Nightshade, a two-fold piece contrasting darkness/anxiety and light/calm, Final Nightshade, for full symphony orchestra, takes us on a journey in which the forces of dark and light struggle – and – co-exist in a predominantly polyphonic web, with brooding undertones.

The melodic point-of-departure is not, surprisingly, to be found in either of the two preceding pieces of the Trilogy, but in an older piece, Corpus com Figuris from 1985. Over the ensuring years I’ve dreamt, on and off, of “doing something” with the opening measures of Corpus, perhaps even building a new composition on that very simple, inward-looking tune, presented by two solo violas. With the present New York Philharmonic commission the time was ripe, and, there’s a nice nostalgic angle to the idea: Corpus cum Figuris was the first piece of mine to be performed by the New York Philharmonic, at the Horizons Festival, conducted by Oliver Knussen, in 1986.

Final Nightshade, based on the few opening bars of Corpus offers a new world of intertwining melodies played mostly in violins and flutes – along with the darker, at times even menacing forces of the rest of the orchestra.

The word itself, “Nightshade”, is wonderfully evocative: pale moonlight, elusive shadows, dark, silent forests in the dead of night.
Which is why I’ve given the new work a sub-titel, “An Adagio of the Night” – it’s a slow-paced Nocturne, with “Lightness and Hope” prevailing towards the end.
Or do they?

- Poul Ruders, September 2003

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