No 1: Landscape with Eagle
No 2: Landscape with Elders
No 3: Landscape with Temple
No 4: Landscape with Rainbow
No 5: Landscape with Horses
In his introduction to the score the composer has written:
The combination of organ and percussion is one of the ensembles in which the organ can display the whole richness of its sound with no restriction to the softer stops. On imagining the sound effect of this combination, an atmosphere both festive and dramatic came to mind. This in turn led me to the Book of Revelations but I soon became aware of the difficulties of expressing all the richness of its contents in a few movements for two players. Therefore I narrowed my horizon to some single images from the Apocalypse – hence the title ‘Landscapes’. These events and symbols, which are inspired by the abstract and expressed pictorially, are diffused by the music into an analogical representation rather than pictorial.
The main, solemn movement, Landscape with Temple, is placed centrally – the third of five movements. Two shorter movements frame it, both sharing the same thematic material and having as their subjects symbols that are close to the throne, i.e. the Elders and the Rainbow. The outer ‘animal’ movements – the Eagle and the Horses – provide the dramatic elements to the work. Only in the last movement have I used two plainsong quotations: the fateful Horses are characterized by the descending Dies Irae motif which eventually gives way to the redeeming Victimae Paschali at the end of the Finale which, with its ascending melody, appears almost as an inversion of the falling Dies Irae melody.
As for the percussion instruments, my choice has been determined by my appreciation of the difficulties, all too often encountered, of finding suitable spacious organ galleries, often approached by narrow winding staircases. Therefore I refrained from using bulky instruments such as timpani, vibraphone and marimba.
The three main movements concentrate on three contrasting timbres: the first the drum head with tom-toms and drums, the second on metallic sounds with the tam-tam, cymbals, bells and glockenspiel, and the last on wooden sounds with temple blocks and xylophone. In the other movements the colour range is mixed.
from notes by Graham Melville-Mason © 2006