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Peter Lawson (1951- )
(Song of the Common Spotted Orchid)
for string quartet

Catalogue Number: 95518

ISMN: 9790222259447

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Grand Design Quartet (sc+pts) image
Written in 2002-4, The Grand Design Quartet is dedicated to Paul and Charlotte Houlton by way of thanks for a holiday in France. The title takes its name from their Graphic Design company in Croydon. The work is subtitled Song of the Common Spotted Orchid and is the 25th in a series of portraits by Peter Lawson of the 48 wild orchids of Great Britain and Ireland for chamber and orchestral resources.
The Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, is probably the most familiar, well-loved and widely-distributed orchid in Britain and Ireland, and is most reliably found in its favoured downland habitats of the South-East, where, in a good year, it can be almost abundant. It also favours railway-cuttings and even the verges of the older motorways, though it can often be found in damp woods and even non-acidic wetlands. The adjective ‘common’ can only refer to its comparitive frequency, as the appearance of the flowering plant is distinctively and splendidly opulent and robust, even regal. The flowering spikes contain many small pink or lilac individual flowers with magenta markings. The leaves are fleshy and shiny and are spotted with distinctively bold, dark blotches.
Like many orchids of its type, the Common Spotted Orchid is extremely variable and liable to hybridize with its close relatives, particularly with the Marsh Orchid species, but it has been possible to categorise four subspecies in North-Western Europe - represented by the four movements of the quartet. These are the standard form (the first movement - in sonata form), the short and stocky, rosy-purple subspecies hebridensis, found in the Outer Hebrides and portrayed in the slow movement, a pure-white form with unspotted leaves, found in the Burren, County Clare and known as ssp. okellyi, forming the third movement (a scherzo) and the rare and recently-designated Southern-English dark-pink variation rhodochila, depicted in the finale.
Duration c.25 minutes

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