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An Imaginary Landscape (1971) ,

An Imaginary Landscape (1971)  ,   ,  ()

(. 1934)

An Imaginary Landscape (1971) ,

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  ... By the time he composed An Imaginary Landscape (1971) Birtwistle was beginning to move
towards the sound world of his stage work on the Orpheus legend. If one wanted to find a
portmanteau title for a Birtwistle work of that period, (which includes his most
celebrated early score, The Triumph of Time) then imaginary landscape would be as good
as any. It is a title first used by John Cage for a series of electronic works in the
early 1950s but it is peculiarly appropriate for a composer who has frequently used a
geographical metaphor to describe the way a listener might orientate his or herself in his
music: One starts, stops, moves around, looks at the overall view, fixes ones attention
on a particular feature or on a detail of that feature or on a fragment of that detail or
on the texture of that fragment.

Birtwistle calls An Imaginary Landscape a processional, and the progress of the music
is that of a steadily unfolding musical frieze which seems to be oblivious to the passage
of normal human time. The ensemble of brass, percussion and doubles basses is divided into
instrumental choirs, which are reassigned in the middle of the work; the groups of
instruments call to each other, oppose or ally themselves with their colleagues, until
finally they abandon their separate identities to play together for the final, very quiet
chorale, composed in memory of the composers mother.

Andrew Clements

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