The Dreams That Fly From Me
For String Quartet and String Orchestra
(2002) 10 minutes
Solo Instrument(s): 2 Violins, Viola, Cello
Orchestration: str (min 184.108.40.206.2)
Commissioned by the Hans Schaeuble Foundation and premiered by the Royal Northern Sinfonia on 28th July 2013 at Hovingham Hall, Hovingham, as part of the Ryedale Festival.
The Dreams That Fly From Me is a ten minute work for solo string quartet and string orchestra. It is in two movements (one slow, one fast) that are played without a break. I spent ten years at the Yehudi Menuhin School (a specialist music school for string and piano) growing up, so this piece cannot help but be strongly influenced by the music I played in the school orchestra during this time. In particular the work is influenced by the first piece in tonight’s programme, Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro (a piece I played many times, and my work would not be inappropriately named if it took the same title as Elgar’s), as well as Strauss’s Metamorphosen (for twenty-three solo strings) and Tippets Concerto for Double String Orchestra, although the harmonic language of the piece (which is essentially very jazzy) helps to obscure these musical references.
The work begins with an elegiac solo for the string quartet which builds and builds until it is dramatically re-harmonised by a ten-note chord in the orchestra (in many parts of the work, the orchestral sections are divided so that there are up to twenty-three individual parts sometimes). The fast movement follows, and the motive that you will hear at the beginning provides the basis of the melodic and harmonic material for the whole movement. This movement is full of string techniques - pizzicato, ‘Bartok’ pizz. (a type of pizzicato where the string is plucked more violently, causing an audible slap of the string on the fingerboard), glissandi, harmonics (and harmonic glissandi). The music builds over a minute and a half to a long lyrical melody in the solo quartet, accompanied by shifting chordal ‘planes’ in the orchestra which ebb and flow as if they are in a different time signature under the melody. This lyricism then gives way to more rhythmical, energetic music, where motives are thrown back and forth between the orchestra and quartet in a kind of musical ball game. A cadenza for the quartet then leads into an altered, more lyrical restatement of the opening theme, before abruptly ending as if being cut off mid sentence.
In terms of extra musical inspiration, the work was inspired by a poem by Ivan Goll called Bloodhound which includes the lines “Catch the dreams that fly off from me.......And savage the ankles of my fleeting angel” I was inspired by the idea of a “fleeting angel” which, at a time when I had been having difficulties composing (and then wrote The Dreams That Fly From Me with relative ease) seemed very poignant: the angel of the poem seemed to be a poetic representation of my inspiration.
© Cheryl Frances-Hoad, 2002
"A slow, studied opening led into a jagged, bouncing motif in which the orchestra alone worked up a considerable frenzy. The re-entry of the quartet had a calming effect, the textures becoming more staccato, eventually ending abruptly – and leaving a hunger for more. Hers is an exciting talent."
Martin Dreyer, The York Press