Additional Information

The composition of this suite began in 2006, but it uses material from sketches made over a number of previous years. It was developed into its final form in 2020. The March originated in sketches for a stage procession of ‘monsters of the id’, the id being the part of the psyche that Sigmund Freud described as dark and inaccessible (in his Lectures on Psychoanalysis of 1933). The Ballad derives from a setting of Algernon Swinburne’s poem ‘Stage Love’ (from Poems and Ballads of 1866), in which a game of love turns sour. In the Double Fugue, the fugal entries are a tritone (the ‘devil’s interval’) apart. The second fugue subject is based on the Newcastle music-hall song ‘Cushie Butterfield’ (1862) – George Ridley’s parody of Harry Clifton’s London music-hall song ‘Pretty Polly Perkins of Paddington Green’. The Variations are ‘enigma variations’ of a well-known tune, which never appears, but is, for the most part, varied throughout rhythmically and not melodically. This movement also brings in a recollection of the first movement, but, unlike the famous Variations by Edward Elgar there are no ‘friends pictured within’. The Scherzo incorporates allusions to the gruesome ballad ‘Long Lankin’ (Child Ballad 93). In this last movement the ballad tune is distorted, and distortion (comic or otherwise) is a connecting thread between the movements of the Suite. It is this character, plus the use of angular intervals (augmented seconds, tritones, major sevenths) and unexpected harmonic twists that suggested the adjective ‘grotesque’.

Details

Year:
2006
Category:
Orch. (with/out solo)
Publisher:
Composer
View Score
Recordings:
Minutes:
16

Instrumentation

Bassoon
2
Clarinet
2
Flute
1
French horn
2
Oboe
2
Percussion
1
Piccoloflute
1
Strings
1
Timpani
1
Trombone
3
Trumpet
2
Xylophone
1

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Suite Grotesque, Op. 32 (orchestra)