Bedford School commissioned four Rustic Sketches in 1997 for the 25th anniversary of the foundation of its music school. It is essentially a sequence of four short fantasias based on West Country folk tunes.
The opening Scrumpy Giles is based on the Somerset tune Farmer Giles, leading off with a formal unison statement of the tune before setting off upon its even-tempered course. Before long, though, the tempo speeds up and the tune finds itself had been accorded a far less deferential treatment before a final upward flourish bring matters to a forceful end.
The Devon tune Widecombe Fair is the subject of the second movement, Widecombe Jan, and its unruffled manner imparts the music the character of an Intermezzo.
The third movement, Lazy Lawrence, is the slow movement proper, and it uses the Dorset folktale Linden Lea. The calm opening portion of the movement is offset by a more agitated central section, which briefly disturbs the peaceful atmosphere. Eventually, Linden Lea restores everything to order with a grand, dignified statement before fading away to a quiet close.
The concluding movement, The Looe Bar Lady, turns its gaze towards Cornwall, with the Helston Floral Dance taking centre stage. Its dominance, however, is not uncontested, as another West Country tune, The British Grenadiers, aided and abetted by Linden Lea, repeatedly barges in and threatens to hog the limelight. However, the Floral Dance succeeds in having the last say as the music makes its last frantic dash to the finishing line.
Programme note by Paul Pellay.
Also available in a Chamber Orchestra version
Written for the Canford Summer School 2006.
First performed by the Summer School Orchestra Conducted by Christopher Adey.
Four Rustic Sketches has also been arranged for Wind Quintet, entitled ‘Westerley Winds’, written for the Galliard Ensemble.
Suitable for Youth Orchestras
Symphony Orchestra. 126.96.36.199/188.8.131.52/Timp/3Perc/Hp/Strings
Commission: Bedford School Music Festival
Publisher: Josef Weinberger