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Peter Maxwell Davies

Publisher: Chester Music

Blake Dreaming: "Goodison Quartet No. 5" (2010)
Text Writer
William Blake
Chester Music Ltd
Solo Voice(s) and up to 6 players
Year Composed
8 Minutes

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Programme Note
Peter Maxwell Davies Blake Dreaming: "Goodison Quartet No. 5" (2010)
The commission was for a work which “uses the voice as an extra instrument, without a text.” In Blake Dreaming, I have cheated a little, setting a line from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”, albeit incompletely:-

The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea...
are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
The first section sets the Blake down to “stormy sea” with voice alone, and follows this by a “dreaming” upon and around it for voice and quartet, where the baritone has pure vocalise. The second section sets the rest of the sentence, again followed by an extended “dreaming” with pure vocalise. The baritone line should be urgent and moody, suggesting eventful and disturbing dreaming. I would suggest that he imagine throughout
a dramatic outline – even to specific (but unsung!) words and emotions – to ensure as powerful and gripping a dialogue with the quartet as possible.


Sample Pages

Blake Dreaming is the latest addition to the series of Goodison quartets, works for voice and string quartet commissioned for the Wigmore Hall by Nicholas and Judith Goodison. Davies takes just a couple of incomplete lines from Blake – "The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea ... are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man" – and uses them as sung epigraphs for the two halves of his 10-minute work. It's a modest yet beautifully crafted little piece, which crosses the boundaries of chamber music, song and even illustrative tone poem. Apart from singing the unaccompanied lines, the voice is treated instrumentally to create sections that Davies calls "dreaming" around Blake's words. The contours are smooth, the textures mostly clear and lyrical, but turbulent and troubled, too...Blake Dreaming seemed a model of economy and good judgment. [FOUR STARS]
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,04/05/2010
The work begins with the baritone speaking – rather more than singing – the text up to the words “stormy sea”. The ‘dreaming’ now commences, in lyrical, long-drawn phrases from the quartet, which – accompanied by the baritone’s vocalise – gradually rise to a peak of intensity. The tempo slows, the players moving into a higher register, and then the vocalise resumes, more freely now, and with greater urgency. The baritone then utters the remainder of the text, with a measure of added intensity to suggest the dichotomy between “eternity” and “eye of man”. The second ‘dreaming’ episode is again lyrical, with pizzicatos from cello and viola to the fore. The vocalise is at a higher pitch now, the quartet’s contribution becoming more impassioned, with more prominent pizzicatos. Finally the baritone hums the work to a somnolent close.
Richard Landau,,30/04/2010
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