Film and Tv
commissioned by The John Feeney Charitable Trust
Chester Music Ltd
I started to write this piece with nothing but the opening melody in mind. As I arranged this apparently simple material for an initial ensemble of four solo violas and cello, the intertwining lines seemed to be sprouting musical leaves; or, in other words, interesting melodic and harmonic fragments were being generated almost as if in a process of nature. After observing a few more pages of these self-propagating complications take shape, I decided on the title Forest. Nearly everything in the piece has grown from the tiny musical seeds encountered in the opening bars, and the composition has unfolded in a particularly natural and organic way.
Within the final pages, a different, more distinct world is occasionally glimpsed. Perhaps this is the forest of folklore and prehistory, rather than the animated and burgeoning biological site examined in the man part of the music. On reaching the conclusion, a region of faint string chords, I felt rather like a fairy tale character pressing deeper an deeper into a mysterious prospect of trees.
Forest was commissioned by the John Feeney Trust and written during 1995. It was first performed in December of that year by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.
© Judith Weir
Discography - Forest
BBC Symphony Chorus / BBC Symphony Orchestra
Ailish Tynan, soprano
See full list
18 JAN 2008
The welcome arrival of rain
Judith Weir: Telling the Tale
Barbican Centre, London
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Ailish Tynan, soprano; ; André de Ridder, conductor
27 SEP 2003
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, UK
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor
06 JUN 2000
Radio France, Paris
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
Thomas Dausgaard, conductor
Forest is simply meant to refer to the way in which she found that the “intertwining lines” of the opening passage for four solo violas and a solo cello “seemed to be sprouting musical leaves”; to refer, that is, to the time-honoured musical metaphor of organic growth. It is accurate enough in this case: the clustering leaves are certainly there even if I rarely sensed a real density of trees. Weir’s orchestration is, as ever, too precise and economical, too given to sunny musical clearings, for that. What, indeed, is most striking is the way she is able to extend those intertwining solo string patterns to a quartet of horns, and thence throughout the orchestra, without jeopardising the balance.
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times,12/1/1995
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