The Consolation of Rain

Composer: David Bruce (b. 1970)
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Composer: David Bruce (b. 1970)

Performance date: 05/07/2017

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 2015-16

Duration: 00:27:23

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Small Mixed Ensemble

Artists: Andreja Malir - [harp]
Alex Petcu - [percussion]
Camille Thomas - [cello]
Olivier Doise - [oboe]

all take consolation from different things, and without wanting to be
overly morbid, I would like to think that after I die, my loved ones
could take consolation from the sense that I was quite literally all
around them, in the air, water and earth as part of the natural cycle
of things. There are numerous poems on this theme, including the
Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

by Mary Elizabeth Frye in which, rather than being dead, the deceased
speaks directly to us:
am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow, I am
the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain
Clearly I am not alone in my way of thinking there is something very
moving about the idea that you can reconnect with someone you’ve lost
simply by looking at nature.

Perhaps an inevitable topic for
an Englishman, the focus in this piece is rain. Taking Debussy’s
method of portraying the sea in

as something of a model, the piece is primarily an abstract musical
construction, but one that constantly and variously evokes different
aural images of rain, whether it be rippling, glistening, dripping,
rumbling, swooshing or showering? gathering pace or subsiding?
distantly echoing or vigorously present. But throughout, the
impression is of rain not as dark and depressing, but as something
positive, consoling, life-affirming and renewing – the
autumn rain
in the Frye poem.

suspect – as is often the case in my work this focus emerged out of
the instrumentation particularly the combination of harp and marimba
which has a lot of potential water in its sound. The focus on
quietness in this piece may also relate to the fact that I knew I was
writing for the wonderful oboist Nicholas Daniel and the fantastic
players of Camerata Pacifica. Just as I was beginning to write the
piece I went to watch Nick perform, and one of the things that struck
me in particular was his breathtakingly beautiful pianissimos. I’ve
always felt that one of the tell-tale signs of a great performer is
someone who knows how to use the very quietest tones their
instruments can produce, to captivate a room and make everyone
collectively hold their breath at the delicacy and fragility of the
sound. These are often the moments when music really does offer a
sense of transcendence.
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