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Judith Weir

Publisher: Chester Music

A Song of Departure (2017)
Work Notes
Commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble Trust
Chester Music Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Sub Category
Mixed Ensemble
Year Composed
4 Minutes
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Programme Note
Judith Weir A Song of Departure (2017)
Thinking about the Schubert Ensemble’s farewell season, I recalled Schubert’s famous song Abschied (from Schwanengesang, words by Rellstab). The narrator departs on horseback, bidding a cheerful or perhaps defiant goodbye (‘Ade!’) to town, trees, gardens, maidens. Faint misgivings strike him only in the final verse, where the music at last visits a minor key; before rejoining the major mode and trotting off into the distance.

For this brief (four minute) farewell piece I have tried to ‘re-inhabit’ Schubert’s Abschied. After a brief evocation of its musical themes (in a faster tempo – this is a speedier horse) there are goodbye waves in turn from viola, violin, cello, bass and piano. By the time the coda is reached, the performers seem to have travelled swiftly up the road, already out of sight.

A Song of Departure is dedicated to the Schubert Ensemble, my dear friends and colleagues of the last thirty-five years.

Programme note by Judith Weir

...A Song of Departure took Schubert’s Abschied, the Rellstab setting from Schwanengesang, as the starting point for tiny meditations for each of the five members of the group in turn. It managed to be both authentically Schubertian and entirely Weirian at the same time.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,25/03/2018
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