Meditation on a Ruin

A setting of the Old English poem for voices and strings.

4S4A4T4B,  2 string quartets, double bass         17’           1998                

The text is a transliteration of the original Anglo-Saxon

The Meditation on a Ruin is a setting of the Anglo-Saxon text The Ruin which is thought, perhaps, to be a depiction of what was left of the Roman city of Bath as seen through the eyes of the poet. What the Anglo-Saxons made of the many Roman ruins that lay around them can only be wondered at. And, surely, this is the fascination of any ruin (and hence the title Meditation): that the imagination immediately tries to picture life when those buildings flourished? A Ruin becomes an interaction between the beholder and the decayed fabric which he contemplates. The text cleverly oscillates between a description of the stones and a reconstruction of a past life and so this musical setting aims not at pictorial description of a lost city but rather at the emotions which images of the past evoke in us, whether those images be actual and archaeological or our own imaginings derived from them. To emphasise all this, the text - which has itself survived only incomplete - is set in the original Old English (using a transliteration that is easy for singers to use).

Maxims, Hymn, Riddle

Three movements on Old English texts for TTB soli        20’           1980

Commissioned by the Spiral Dance Company, Liverpool

Live recording by Charles Daniels, Peter Long, (tenors) Gareth Morell (baritone)