Sweet briar elegies

Joelle Wallach

About this work:

Written in Sweet Briar, Virginia, during the summer of 1992 in the aftermath of the composer’s husband’s unexpected death, Sweet Briar Elegies is set for either soprano saxophone and an ensemble of eight celli or for soprano saxophone and piano.   Its two movements are not independent elegies but comprise a single elegiac whole.    The first movement is a recitative of passionate wistfulness; the second movement, an aria of poignant lyricism and longing interrupted briefly by an ominous, somewhat disturbing middle section.

The piece bears an epigram from William Blake’s Songs of Experience:

…and I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be:
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.
William Blake Songs of Experience (1794)

Version: sop sax, pno (acc orig for 4 vc)
Year composed: 1992
Duration: 00:04:00
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 6-9 players
Instrumentation: 1 Soprano Saxophone, 1 Piano, 4 Cello
Instrumentation notes: sop sax, pno (also for cello ensemble of 4-8 celli)

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