The Witch's Kiss has so many associations as to be difficult to write about. Here are a few of them:
The title comes from a line in the George Mackay Brown short story, Witch, in which a young girl is tortured, humiliated and burned in suspicion of heresy. There is, however, no connection between the music and this story other than that I was moved by while writing the piece.
Another association was when I first encountered the work of the sculptor Barbara Hepworth who, for a period, only made her beautiful and simple forms out of two pieces of stone. Although my initial intention was to follow this example, the music outgrew this structure (but the spirit of Hepworth's idea of beauty through simplicity and balance remains) and the work as it stands has four movements. The first is a cold, reserved, mainly quiet exposition of the work's material; the second, a frenetic, cadenza-like scherzo combined and contrasted with a pulse-based central section; the third is a 'psalm' based on the hetrophonic style of church singing in the north-west of Scotland; and the fourth, a return to the original material and mood - though intensified - developed and ultimately laid to rest in a chorale-like close.
The Witch's Kiss is dedicated to Simon Bainbridge.
© Stuart MacRae