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Dedicated to Frances 'Pearlie' Mannion (b.1918 d.2012)
Premiered on the 26th of March 2012 by Joseph Houston at St James, Piccadilly.
Performed following ‘Et la Lune Descend sur le Temple qui Fut’ (1907) by Claude Debussy, without intermission.
The original inspiration for ‘Pearly’ came upon my revisiting of the German artist, Anselm Kiefer’s lead sculptures involving books, particularly Buch mit Flügeln (Book with Wings),
1992-94. The apparent earthly weight of this gargantuan sculpture seems to contradict the divine messages of the artist’s book; “…it ponders a civilization in search of spirituality but grappling with the weight of its human condition, beyond cultures and religions […] is uplifting with its wings, yet earthbound with its thousands of kilograms of weight.” The duality of these ideas filled my mind with thoughts of transmitting heavenly messages across earthly planes and formed the core structure for this new work.
Similarly to Et la Lune Descend sur le Temple qui Fut, I sought to deliver the listener to a serene and unhurried landscape where musical objects are dispersed across the piano’s register like different characters. Flashes of light and ‘morse code’ transmit an unchanging message between the piano and electronics, gently pulsing harmonies evolve but frequently usher in silence. In the final section both piano and electronics crescendo to reach a stentorian F sharp major chord that closes the work like the toll of an enormous bell, evocative of the earthly materials used in Kiefer’s original sculpture.