orchestral | 1980

Fornocht do Chonnac Thú


Year: 1980

Duration: 15'

Instrumentation: 22(ca)22/4330/timp/2perc/pf/str

Program Notes


Fornocht do Chonac Thú

This work was specially commissioned by the Government of Ireland for the Irish Ballet Company and is dedicated to Joan Denise Moriarty.

It takes its title from PH Pearse’s famous poem which begins.-

Naked I saw thee

0 beauty of beauty

And I blinded my eye

For fear I should fall

I have turned my face

To this road before me

To the deed that I see

And the death I shall die


Musically it falls into four sections which are played without a break. In the opening section the main motifs are announced after a brief introduction. These are a brass fanfare which in the ballet represents Pearse himself, and two string themes, one lyrical and one agitated, which represent two aspects of Pearse’s personality. The lyrical theme suggests his delight in the beauty of the world, and the agitated theme depicts his dilemma created by the sense of destiny which was to compel him to forsake this beauty and direct his vision

“ar an ngiomh do chim

saran mbas do gheoghad”

“to the deed that I see and the death I shall die”.

The second section consists mainly of a discussion between piano, vibraphone, timpani and tom­ toms against which are heard variations on the opening motif, on strings, woodwind and brass. The third section comprises three elaborate solos for trumpet, clarinet and horn, each of which is set against a distinct orchestral background so as to form a set of mini concertos. The final section is heralded by clusters in the lower registers of the orchestra. It builds to a dramatic climax recalling the brass fanfares among other material. before coming to a placid conclusion.




Fornocht do Chonnac Thú (Diultú)

RTÉSO (Albert Rosen) NCH 3-9-1987