UNCOLLECTED WORKS

There are a number of Paul's works that do not have opus numbers due to either being only in sketch form, abandoned or discarded.  This page, in Paul's own words, describes the works and the reasoning behind their status as "uncollected". 

Arrangements

Firstly there are two arrangements. The first of these, of Satie’s Gymnopédie No 3, was made for members of the London School of Economics Orchestra in 1970.  At that time the work of Satie was still relatively little-known, and this arrangement was designed to rectify the situation.  The scoring is extremely elastic, to accommodate the fluctuating personnel in an amateur student orchestra, but of course the orchestration itself is not a patch on Debussy’s fragrant and sensual treatment.

 

The second arrangement, of the Welsh national anthem, is considerably later.  It was specifically designed for performance at the time of the première of The Dialogues of Óisin and Saint Patric, and therefore uses exactly the same chamber orchestration. It was however never used (I cannot now recall why), and of course is unsuitable for any other circumstances.

Early Sketches and Rejected Works

A piece written originally for a London school orchestra in 1968 and entitled Irish melody was entirely lost for many years, and was only rediscovered when it was sent to the Welsh music archive at Ty Cerdd during the 1990s. I think it may well have been my very first publicly performed composition, but that I was unable to attend either rehearsals or performance because I was in Ireland for Christmas, and for a long time I had entirely forgotten its very existence.

The Reflection on a theme of Butterworth was originally written as an exercise and is a straightforward setting of one of the songs from A Shropshire Lad scored for violin and piano. It is of course too short to make for a satisfactory piece in its own right.

 

The work entitled Torment for performer and two ears come from the same era as my interest in Satie referred to earlier, and the whimsical title was conceived by my fellow composer Jon Geidt (collaboration between composers was also fashionable in the late 1960s in the aftermath of the Chinese Cultural Revolution).  I cannot now even recall which of us wrote which passages.

 

The Fantasia on a Ground of William Byrd should perhaps have formed a ninth movement in the piano collection Eight Studies, but I cannot pretend that it has any great merit.  It was also written purely as an exercise, and the extreme difficulty of the piano writing is not justified by the content of the music.

The setting of Psalm 134 for mixed chorus was not my first work for choir—it was preceded by the Nativity Mass —but it does not have the freshness of the earlier work, and it does not lie comfortably for singers. At a later date I revised the work for male chorus. Apart from some slight extension of the rhythm in the final bars, it does not improve on the original.

The setting of Hodie Christus natus est is a mystery to me.  I do not remember writing it, but the original manuscript paper would suggest that the work was completed some time in 1974.  It is a contrapuntal exercise of some ingenuity, perhaps intended to be incorporated into the Nativity Mass; but the scoring for male chorus would be unusual if that were the intention.

The brief setting for voice and piano of the folksong Searching for lambs originates from the same period of the study as the Byrd and Butterworth pieces mentioned earlier. Again the brevity of the setting, and the too knowing reference to Puccini’s Manon Lescaut desert scene at the words “as the sun did shine” militate against its inclusion in the catalogue. The lambs were not lost in the Louisiana desert.

The choral work Mons Graupis was written in 1972 at the height of an experimental phase.  I prefaced the score with a long exculpatory note which is reproduced below, but it remains the case that the work with its extreme difficulties is better regarded as a case study rather than a performable piece.

   They make a desolation, and call it peace

[Tacitus, quoting the words of the Gaelic leader  Calgacus before the battle of Mons Graupis]

The genesis of this short cantata may perhaps lie in my first experience, several years ago, of the tortures which an industrial and supposedly civilised society can inflict upon a potentially beautiful landscape. This came after I had spent a holiday in the Gower, and saw on leaving Swansea the monstrous heaps of industrial waste extending on every side nearly as far as the sight could reach. The sheer extent of it was overwhelming; but still more horrific was the fact that this ghastly sight had been entirely the product of human ‘ingenuity’.

If it is objected that some of the texts I chose for this cantata perhaps overstate my case, I willingly plead guilty. Music is not made from the understatement of views, or by the pursuit of the reasoned viewpoint. It may however be further objected that in the pursuit of dramatic rhetoric I have sacrificed musical content and have abandoned myself to a pursuit of modern gimmickry—aleatoric passages, semitonal clusters, shouted phrases, and all the other apparatus of the modern ‘advanced’ choral work. In this respect, however, I hope that I have exercised more restraint than some other modern practitioners of these devices, and that at no time have I indulged in them without textual justification—in other words, I hope that gimmickry is absent. This is probably the most self-consciously ‘modern’ work that I have written, although I have certainly used some of these effects in other of my works; and I do not think that any other text, except possibly that of the Dies irae itself, would or could require such effects again.

One other objection may be that I have written ‘political’ music. Insofar as politics is a trading in emotions, I suppose I have. But I would not regard politics as a fit subject for music, nor would I admit that the inspiration of this work is political. The slogan at the end of the cantata is an emotional and aesthetic, not a nationalist, one. It is a cry of outraged aestheticism against the pressures of an industrial and materialist society, not a cry against a nation or class of oppressors—because the oppressors are to be found in every land, and not in just one or all but one.

The chorus required for this work is not as large as would seem, because each part is conceived with a small group of singers in mind.  The semi-chorus should be grouped in the centre of the front row, but should never number any more than twelve.  The rest of the choir should be equally divided between first and second choruses, but the second chorus should be spread behind the first chorus—in other words, no antiphonal effect is intended.  The baritone solo in the third movement is optional, and the part may be sung by the semi-chorus if desired.  The conductor must make every effort to make sure that the words come through; there is little point in my writing harsh discords if the reason for them is not to be appreciated. It may be an idea in the first movement to have two conductors, although I would not regard it as essential.  Other points which might be borne in mind in performance are as follows:

First movement   There should be no correspondence between the beat in this movement for the main chorus in 6/4 and the semi-chorus, in 8/4 and slower.  Both sections should sing without expression, except the diminuendos marked in the main choir. The accents in the semi-chorus part are not to be marked too forcefully. The ‘interlude’ at the centre is entirely made up of a free improvisation by each individual member of the main choir; any member may make an arpeggio on the four notes indicated at any speed that takes his fancy, or may remain on one note. The conductor should start the process, and wait for at least half a minute before taking up the beat again. During this time the semi-chorus remains silent.

Second movement:

The opening should be a forceful tutti; once the clusters are built up, this force should not be dissipated. The second section should consist of reiterated rhythms on this cluster by the full chorus.  As the movement ends, each chorus has a half-beat rest. They then resume the cluster as before, but now piano and wordless. This accompanies the third movement.

Third movement:  

An unproblematic movement from the point of view of performance; the text by Tolkien must be clearly declaimed, and the diminuendo for chorus at the end should not begin any sooner than indicated.

Fourth movement:

Again no real problems of performance arise until the final Presto subito.  Here all that is notated is the first note of a chord.  The conductor or musical director must here insert a slogan which is appropriate to the circumstances in which the work is to be performed.  This should be sung to a notated rhythm, but the notes of the chord must be maintained to the end.  The whole must be completed within two beats, and if possible should not end too definitely, since the conclusion of the cantata should remain open; the destruction of the landscape and the people who live in it—what I believe is nowadays called environmental pollution—is most certainly not yet resolved.

Uncompleted Works

Finally there come two more substantial groups of sketches.  The first is an extended opening movement written in 1969 for a Requiem which rather too obviously acknowledges the influence of Brahms.  The main theme however was subsequently to reappear in Mysteries of Time as well as Beren and Lúthien.

 

The second is the opening scene of the musical Golden which  was written in 1978 but never  completed—largely 

because the remainder of the text never materialised. It will be noted that much of the material later found its way into The Children of Húrin but its original ‘pop’ format might be of interest.