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Flowers of the seasons (suite) - 13’
commission: Stephen Baister, for Chris Patrick as a birthday gift.



This suite of pieces was commissioned in 2002 as a birthday gift. Knowing little about the recipient of the gift, except that it was for a lady who was a good amateur pianist, I chose flowers as my subject. The suite is comprised of six movements and follows the months from March to August, with English wild flowers as the inspiration. Each movement has a subtitle, and there are also short quotations and descriptions written throughout the score, as a guide to the performer as to the inspiration behind the music. This has been an audience favourite....!

The Daffodil - March - ”The joyous trumpets burst forth, and herald the coming spring.”

The movement opens with a bright, fanfare-like motive which represents the “ joyous trumpets” of daffodils and their early appearance after winter.

Fritillary April - “Delicately nodding heads: this little flower, floating on its fragile stem, blooms silently among the meadow grasses of the spring.”

Again, this is a short movement.  There is no regular time or pulse, which gives a feeling of  “a free spirit.”  Much of the music uses the higher ranges of the piano, with both hands playing in the treble, which creates a delicate feeling.

Gorse May - “A sea of billowing gold......”

Inspiration for this movement, with its lush harmonies and key changes, came from the down-lands cliff top near Lyme Regis one May, where there were seas of billowing gold gorse bushes. The melody sings above a ripple of semiquavers.

Honeysuckle  - June -  “......what sight is an English hedgerow, filled with flowers of the fragrant honeysuckle......”

This movement is almost fugue-like in style and represents the climbing and twining of honeysuckle through the summer hedgerow.   All of a sudden, a lush melody breaks forth  -  the glories of a June hedgerow smothered in honeysuckle flowers.

Scabious  - July

In contrast, this tiny one-page movement, a single melodic line for right hand alone, takes us to the chalk downland, with a melody that is wistful and delicate, like the little blue scabious. Once again, the freedom from a time signature allows the music a natural, free feeling.

The Fuchsia  - August - “ The whole bush - amassed with thousands  of delicate hanging bells. Stand back, - a billowing sea of flame against a rich azure sky.....”

The inspiration for this movement came from a wonderful sight of a profusion of wild fuchsia bushes along a cliff path. Irregular rhythms between the hands and a profusion of semiquavers, musically reflect the mass of flowers and the effect of  “a billowing sea of flame.” A central melody with lush harmony ensues....

performed:     Compass Theatre, Ickenham, Middlesex - Simon Callaghan

recordings:    Simon Callahgan
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