The title of Near Paradise is a quotation from Robert Frost’s poem ‘A Winter Eden’, which depicts a scene in nature – and a vision of paradise – which is at once ecstatic and hesitant. The emotional state of the poem falls short of complete affirmation, with the landscape being described as ‘one level higher than the earth below, one level nearer heaven overhead’. I was attracted by the ambiguity of the poem, and the very human quality of the tempered joy which it describes. Near Paradise is characterised by resonant and often extremely static harmonies, and by an almost diatonic melody which appears in various forms throughout the piece, most notably on the clarinet, the cor anglais and the French horns.
Instrumentation: Orchestra (2(II=picc).2(II=c.a.).2.2 – 220.127.116.11 – perc(2): I: vib/tri II: susp.cymb/glsp/t.bells – hp – pno – strings)
Commission: Commissioned by Melos Sinfonia.
11th June 2017
Melos Sinfonia, Oliver Zeffman
Milton Court, London