1. SONG OF THE SMALL WHITE ORCHID by Peter Lawson
      for recorders (one player) and string quartet
      Goodmusic GM137

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      The Song of the Small White Orchid, written in 2013 for John Turner in celebration of his seventieth birthday, is the thirtieth to be written in a projected cycle of musical portraits of the forty-eight wild orchids of Britain and Ireland, ranging from solo instruments to various combinations of chamber and orchestral ensembles.
      It is a short, light-hearted piece which explores the wide range of pitches from the lowest note on the Bass recorder to the top notes of the tiny Sopranino via the Tenor, Treble and Descant instruments. The string quartet acts both in an accompanying mode and also as a completer of the musical argument of a stanza whilst the soloist changes recorder in readiness for the next stanza.
      The Small White Orchid, Pseudorchis albida, has a distinctly Northerly distribution in Great Britain and is extremely rare and endangered in Northern England, Wales and Ireland. Most of its sites are in Scotland, but even here it is very local and decreasing - due to overgrazing in its typical habitat of rough pasture ground and to agricultural ‘improvement’ of land in sites nearer to sea level. It has a wide distribution abroad and can be seen as far south as the Balkans, as far east as Siberia and as far west as Greenland and Eastern Canada.
      It is a dainty plant, less than 15cm high, with long, lanceolate leaves wrapping around the stem. It has a relatively long, sweetly-scented, compact spike of often as many as thirty small white flowers with yellow-gold pollinia, which are pollinated by a variety of insects, particularly moths at twilight.
      The neat, dainty nature of the plant is reflected in the music. A ‘colour scheme’ of harmonies is employed for the green of the leaves, white of the petals, gold of the pollinia, blue of the sky above and brown of the fading plant. The harmony is often in the form of arpeggiated patterns, whose rhythmic figurations sometimes suggest birdsong which might be heard in the vicinity of the orchid.
      Gradually, references to imaginary Scottish marching-band music, a reel, jigs and numerous Scottish and Irish folk-song-like airs creep in and as the conclusion approaches there are capricious, fleeting references to Richard Strauss's "Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks" and the Irish air "Believe me, if all those endearing young charms". Peter Lawson
      Duration 6½ minutes

      For the version with piano accompaniment see GM207.

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      Peter Lawson - Song of the Small White Orchid (Ensemble - Mixed)

      Catalogue Number: GM137      9790222290860      

      Price: £8.00

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