Jeremy Dale Roberts' Spoken To A Bronze Head (2009) for Mezzo Soprano and Piano. This is a setting for text by Ursula Vaughan Williams.
'In all the long years that I knew her – and it was a matter of regret between us – I never set a word of Ursula’s poetry. It was only after her death, when I was asked to contribute a setting of one of her poems to a celebratory concert held at the Royal College of Music that I ‘jumped’: I knew immediately which one I wanted to do – lines ‘Spoken to a Bronze Head’. This was the portrait bust of RVW made by David McFall: not the Jacob Epstein which neither of them liked very much. It stood always in her sitting room, a benign presence, a ‘virtual’ companion in her long widowhood.
My setting is in an ‘arioso’ style, quite simple and austere – maybe to match the rather ‘Augustan’ style of the verse. It is of course a memorial, also a salute: and I wanted to enshrine in it the two of them, Ralph and Ursula. So at the heart of it is a clangourous, bronze-like chord, lifted from the last movement of VW’s 6th Symphony, from which I quote a passage just before the conclusion. - Jeremy Dale Roberts