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01684 773883

Peter Lawson
SONG OF THE BROAD LEAVED MARSH ORCHID
for tuba and piano
Goodmusic GM190

Catalogue Number: GM190

ISMN: 9790222302945

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Song of the Broad-Leaved Marsh Orch image
The Song of the Broad-Leaved Marsh Orchid is the thirty-seventh 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 Broad-Leaved Marsh Orchid, Dactylorhiza majalis, is widely distributed, occurring throughout Europe. In Britain it is very rare, probably because of drainage of marshes and improvement of land for cultivation - it has a low tolerance of nitrogen and any human interference to this effect will destroy the orchid. For the same reason it is common in parts of Western Ireland where it flourishes in particular in the limestone pavements of the Burren region of County Clare.
The Broad-Leaved Marsh Orchid is a robust, imposing plant with up to forty purplish-red flowers on its spike. It has broad, lanceolate leaves, which are heavily covered in dark spots. Each flower consists of three tepals and a convex, three-lobed lower lip. The outer tepals are fairly erect and the middle one curves down to form a helmet. The lower lip is covered in dark purplish lines and loops, guiding insects under the helmet to achieve pollination.
The Song of the Broad-Leaved Marsh Orchid is in three movements, all in ternary form. The first, Majalis, starts with a dramatic representation of the imposing nature of the plant, giving way in the middle section to a more romantic evocation of the beauty of the flowers.
The second movement, Hebridean Air, describes the subspecies ebudensis, which can only be found on the northern coastal machair of North Uist, in the outer Hebrides. These plants are shorter, magenta in colour and the markings on the leaves are absent near the base of the leaves but merge for the remainder of the leaf into a dark purplish stain. The gaelic pentatonic scale is much to the fore in this movement, which, like the first movement, exploits the rich, singing qualities of the instrument.
The third movement, Jig, refers to the other subspecies to be found in Britain and Ireland, traunsteinerioides, or Irish Marsh Orchid. In this subspecies the leaves are generally unspotted and narrower and the central lobe of the lower lip is more pointed. Peter Lawson
Duration 8 minutes

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