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01684 773883

Peter Lawson
SONG OF THE MARSH HELLEBORINE
for horn and piano
Goodmusic GM188

Catalogue Number: GM188

ISMN: 9790222302921

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Song of the Marsh Helleborine image
The Song of the Marsh Helleborine is the thirty-fifth to be written in a cycle of musical portraits of the forty-eight wild orchids of Great Britain and Ireland - for various instrumental and orchestral combinations.
The Marsh Helleborine, Epipactis palustris, is one of the showiest of the native orchids of the region, with a large white frilled labellum with yellow and magenta stripes and spots, magenta and green sepals and a number of flowers on a one-sided raceme which can reach 60 cms high. As it prefers alkaline marshes, where it likes to be submerged in the winter, its possible sites are fairly limited, but where it does grow, it can be abundant, such as at Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve on Anglesey. In Scotland, it has a more southerly preference, but this is probably more to do with the lack of suitable alkaline habitat rather than the climate, as it can be found as far away as Eastern Siberia as well as in the Middle East and Europe.
The Song of the Marsh Helleborine is in three movements and, like the other orchid portraits, employs a colour-coding of harmonies representing the colours found on the plant. These colours can be heard at the outset of the first movement, Aria, in which the horn's lyrical qualities are on show, with coloratura-like decorations exploiting the instrument's perhaps surprising nimbleness and agility. The second movement, Palustris Waltz, is in ternary form, with the middle section and coda referring to the variation ochroleuca, where the reddish or magenta colour is largely absent in favour of white, yellow and green. The third movement starts with a lament to the number of sites lost to marsh and fenland drainage in recent decades. This gives way to a more resolute section, depicting the tireless work of conservationists successfully to preserve the plant's habitat. The writing at this juncture is somewhat Bach-like in flavour, a nod to the almost classical beauty of the flower. The movement gradually picks up in optimism, to end in good humour. Peter Lawson
Duration 8 minutes

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