Peter Maxwell Davies: Blake Dreaming 'Goodison Quartet No.5'
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Blake Dreaming, ‘Goodison Quartet No. 5’ was commissioned by Nicholas and Judith Goodison.
First performance on 30th April 2010, at Wigmore Hall, London, by Roderick Williams (baritone) and the Doric Quartet.
The commission was for a work which “uses the voice as an extra instrument, without a text.” In Blake Dreaming, I have cheated a little, setting a line from “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”, albeit incompletely:-
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea... are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.
The first section sets the Blake down to “stormy sea” with voice alone, and follows this by a “dreaming” upon and around it for voice and quartet, where the baritone has pure vocalise. The second section sets the rest of the sentence, again followed by an extended “dreaming” with pure vocalise. The baritone line should be urgent and moody, suggesting eventful and disturbing dreaming. I would suggest that he imagine a dramatic outline throughout – even to specific (but unsung!) words and emotions – to ensure as powerful and gripping a dialogue with the quartet as possible.