The Legend of the Tamar
This tone poem was written for the Central England Ensemble and first performed by them in 2017. It is based on an English folk story:
This is the legend of how the River Tamar and two smaller water streams, the Tavy and the Tawe, were created, back in the time of magic, wizards, witches, giants and gnomes.
The music opens by depicting a dark, mysterious cavern in which lived two little people, gnomes who worked all their lives underground, never seeing sunlight or the world above. They had a daughter, Tamara, who was a lovely, golden-haired sprite, represented by the opening flute melody. Tamara hated living in the dark and cold, but her father forbade her to go above ground to the sunlight and trees and flowers, and warned her that there were many dangers up there, including Giants who might carry her away; his words are depicted by the bassoon melody.
In spite of her parent's warnings about the dangerous giants who lived above, Tamara travelled to the surface whenever she could, so that she could run and play in the light and the warmth. Her running and dancing is represented in the faster section by the solo flute, with a delicate pizzicato accompaniment by the strings. However, Tamara's father came to the entrance of the cavern, and scolded her for ignoring his warnings; this is depicted again by the bassoon, followed by a slow, sad flute melody.
Tamara's father had just left her sitting in the sunshine, feeling despondent and lonely, when along came two giants, Tavy and Tawe, played by the solo clarinet and solo cello. These were not dangerous, frightening giants, but two confident show-offs, who quickly introduced themselves to her, each eager to catch the eye of the young sprite. They danced a new, slightly ponderous giant dance with Tamara, and by the end of it both had quickly fallen in love with the young girl; this is represented by a slower romantic melody played by the clarinet, cello, trumpet and horn.
Tamara, feeling happy and excited that she had found two new friends, resumed her first dance, but suddenly clouds covered the sun, the sky became darker and darker, and she was afraid. Her father, angered by her disobedience, had come above the ground again to cast a spell on Tamara, and he turned her into a river called the Tamar, flowing towards the sea. This is represented in the music by increasingly uncertain, chromatic music, and then a build up to a series of loud discords.
The giants were bereft, and pleaded that they could not be separated from Tamara, and so her father took pity on them; Tavy and Tawe were both also turned into streams of water. Tavy, played by the clarinet, followed straight and true alongside Tamara to the sea, and the flow of the water is represented by the murmuring flute and clarinet melodies of the closing bars. However, Tawe, in his rush to join them, took a wrong turn, and so his stream flows in a different direction some distance away from the others; as a result his cello melody plays arpeggios crossing over the other two friends. The music ends with brief reminiscences of the melodies of their earlier dances, and grows ever quieter as they flow on into the distance, forever united.