I give you the end of a golden string for string orchestra (2011-13)
My aim when I began this piece was to create a long length of string music out of a single strand of melody. While experimenting at the beginning, shaping and extending a melody in many possible directions, I came across William Blake’s lines….
I give you the end of a golden string;
Only wind it into a ball,
It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate,
Built in Jerusalems’s wall
…and this became my working method, winding a single tune around itself so that it gradually formed itself into a much richer, more complex texture. The process happens three times, producing the equivalent of a continuous three movement concerto.
The ‘first movement’ is engendered by two solo violas (the melody at the beginning already entwined with a slightly alternative version of itself). The ‘slow movement’ (a more extended, more decorated development of the opening tune) is introduced by a solo cello (soon winding itself into a quartet of celli). The fast ‘finale’, led by two solo violins, focuses on decorations within the melody, rolling out ribbons of (Britten-like?) thirds. The duration of the whole piece is around sixteen minutes.
I give you the end of a golden string was commissioned by the Britten-Pears Foundation and the Royal Philharmonic Society.
I give you the end of a golden string - Judith Weir from Royal Philharmonic Society on Vimeo.