In June of 2000 the composer, Margi Griebling-Haigh, traveled through parts of England. Afterwards she had the idea to write an impressionistic chamber piece which would combine a sort of instrumental adaptation of the madrigal while also capturing images from this trip.
The Windrush River is a small, rippling, and pristine stream, which twists its way through the villages of the Cotswalds. It seemed to the composer to be a joyful and innocent little river. The first movement, "The Queen Was Seen Bedeck'd in Green", is based on the merest fragment of that beloved madrigal by Thomas Morley, "Now is the Month of Maying", but in a spritely 5/8 meter. The composer tried to portray a certain nostalgia for Elizabethan England but with a considerably larger range of drama than would have been found in any single madrigal of that time.
"Swans and Willows", marked Andante molto tranquillo e legato, follows. This movement is based on the memory of the swans in the moat around Wells Cathedral in Somerset on a warm, sunny afternoon. These are the famous "bell-ringing swans" which, according to tradition, have been taught to pull a cord attached to a bell when they wish to be fed. The piece is overall lazy and full of gently rippling water and dangling willow branches but also depicts the commotion of the take offs and landings of large waterfowl.
The thematic material of the third movement harkens back to old rounds and catches. "Sir William" in this case is a river otter whose only mission in life is to have as much fun as possible. The combination of oboe and clarinet is ideal for representing the splashing of paws and the sliding down riverbanks, while the piano provides the sparkling of sunlight on water and the clarity of the air.
Scored for oboe, clarinet and piano. Duration: approximately 18.5 minutes.
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This work has been recorded by Fiati. See CD2252.
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