Songs of Three Seasons

Songs of Three Seasons for voice and viola, Op. 1 (1965)

These songs were written while the composer was studying with Richard Rodney Bennett and are dedicated to him. Their composition was prompted by a desire to explore a medium so brilliantly exploited in Bennett’s ‘Tom O’Bedlam’s Song’, the tenor and ‘cello of which are consciously paralleled in the soprano and viola of the Songs for [sic] Three Seasons’.

The style of the songs is unified by the complementary moods of the texts which, despite their disparity of tradition, share a brooding intensity in their observation of the seasons. During the process of setting them, the restrictive two-part instrumental layout led towards the stricter serial organisation of the musical material, though which song of the three is strictly serial and which of the remainder is more or less free in its technique, is immaterial: what matters is whether the music consistently throws light on the texts.

Tim Souster 1966

Taken from programme note for first performance: SPNM concert 3 November 1965