Baigent, Bertie: An Echo from Willow-Wood (PDF)
The composer was drawn to the beautiful stillness and sadness of the poem by Christina Rossetti, which transcend its rigid sonnet structure, and allude via the epigraph to the mysterious Willow-Wood cycle by Christina’s brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The music suggests a division of the poem into three stanzas, alternating with tranquil interludes (using the opening melody) representing the ‘willow-wood’ of the title, so that the listener is constantly reminded of the gentle surroundings. As the intensity of the text increases, so does the astringency of dissonance in the verses, reaching its apogee just before consonance breaks through at the crucial phrase ‘one moment joined’. The simplicity of the vocal writing conveys the serenity of the setting, while simultaneously suggesting the austere melancholy of the lovers. An Echo from Willow-Wood was the winner of the Stainer & Bell Award for Choral Composition 2015.
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