Music of Sally Greenaway
Commissioned by Plexus

Commissioned by PLEXUS for their 'Post-Patriarchal' concert, paying tribute to the sacrifices made during the turmoil of the First World War.

Opening with a fragile and exposed line intertwining the violin and clarinet, symbolising both comradery and the white clouds which move 'in silent lines across the untroubled blue'. The setting is soon interrupted by a dark and troubled piano figure which echoes the memories of the destruction from the battlefield. This material slowly erodes and becomes more disfigured and unsettled as the piece progresses. The climax, full of jarring rhythms and angular intervals (which are based on inversions and systematic increases or decreases in pitch based on the original melodic material) is expressive of the mental shock endured by those undertaking therapy for post traumatic stress disorder. The piece concludes with a restating of the original theme, but this time includes a sparse piano accompaniment to add to the harmonic framework, hinting at the futility of war and the immense waste and suffering that comes from wars.

The piece explores the mental anguish of returning soldiers and takes inspiration from Richard Aldington's poem Bombardment.

Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.

The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.

The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.

Category: Chamber: Trio to Large Ensemble; String instruments; Woodwind instruments;
Instrumentation: Trio: Clarinet, Violin, Piano
Year: 2015
Work duration: 6min
Difficulty/level: Advanced
Commissioned by: Plexus

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