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SONG OF THE SOUTHERN MARSH ORCHID by Peter Lawson
for violin, cello and piano
Goodmusic GM085

Catalogue Number: GM085

ISMN: 9790222286290

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Song of the Southern Marsh Orchid image
The Song of the Southern Marsh Orchid (1997-8) was the 21st to be written in a projected cycle of musical portraits of the 48 wild orchids of Britain and Ireland. It is dedicated to the Barbican Piano Trio, who first performed it in Uzbekistan in 1998.

The Southern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis, ssp. praetermissa) is a robust, spectacular plant, bearing a large spike of pinkish-mauve flowers. In Britain, it is least uncommon in southern England, but sadly in decline, as are so many wetland species. Abroad, it is rarer, primarily being confined to central Western Europe.

References to French, Austrian and German music reflect the orchid’s distribution in its ‘song’, which comes, as it were, from the orchid itself. The piece begins with a depiction of its surroundings, followed by a capricious flowering section, reaching a climax as pollination occurs. This rapidly leads to the setting of seed and the dying down of the plant as it over-winters - a slower, rather still section. The return of the capricious mood heralds another year of flowering, cut short in its prime by the lowering of the water table due to farming activities and the consequent destruction of the colony. To conclude, there follows a short epilogue, with a reference to the Venusberg music from Wagner’s Tannhauser, fancifully transporting the orchid back to a sweet but sadly receding time when the orchid colony was alive and untroubled by human intervention. Peter Lawson
Duration 10 minutes

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