HORTUS MUSICAE, Book 1 Robert Saxton

HORTUS MUSICAE, Book 1 cover
15 mins

Solos, Duos & Trios Solos •• Solo piano

1 Piano

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Performing score ISMN 57036-507-4 £10.95 Buy now

solo piano

Programme note

Commissioned by Ian Ritchie for the 2013 City of London Festival with funds provided by the John S. Cohen Foundation. The first performance was given by Clare Hammond on 24th June 2013 at the church of St Mary le Bow.

The title, less ‘literal’ in Latin than in the vernacular, refers to the idea of an allegorical/metaphysical garden (reference to a ‘real’, or existing, garden might be implied by Hortus Musicus) with various facets. The titles of the individual pieces/movements, with their respective garden image, are as follows:

1). HORTUS SOMNIORUM: a fleeting vision of a ‘magical’ garden

2). HORTUS TEMPORIS: a reflection of/on the floral clock described by Andrew Marvell (1621‐1678) in his [metaphysical] poem The Garden:

How well the skilful gardener drew
Of flowers and herbs this dial new,
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And, as it works, the industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers!

3). HORTUS CANTUS: a garden in which nature ‘sings’ (praises) , in the manner of a ‘chorale prelude’ and ending with the cantus firmus transformed into bells.

4). HORTUS INFINITATIS: a meditative/formal garden representing Time suspended, in the form of a palindromic prolation canon combined with an harmonic ground (chaconne).

5). SALTATIO HORTENSIS: a (summer) garden of dancing, celebratory nature. Its essence (and that of the entire cycle, both metaphorically and structurally/formally) is summed up in words spoken by Miranda in WH Auden’s 1944 Tempest [Shakespeare]‐inspired poem The Sea and the Mirror:

So, to remember our changing garden, we
Are linked as children in a circle dancing.

Clare Hammond, Church of St Mary le Bow, 24th June 2013
  • 5 Jan 2015 | 6:15pm | Purcell Room, South Bank, London | Susannah Fairbairn (soprano) and Matthew Schellhorn (piano), Imma Setiadi (solo piano); Maxwell Quartet, Gamal Khamis (solo piano)
  • 11 Nov 2014 | St Martin-in-the-Fields, London | Gamal Khamis, piano
  • 20 Nov 2013 | 7:30pm |

    Michael Tippett Centre, Bath Spa University


    Clare Hammond (piano)

  • 12 Nov 2013 | 12:30pm |

    Holywell Music Room, Oxford


    Clare Hammond (piano)

  • 2 Oct 2013 | 5:30pm |

    Performance Space, City University, St John Street, London


    Clare Hammond (piano)

  • 24 Jun 2013 | 6:00pm |

    St Mary-le-Bow


    Clare Hammond (piano)