Poem of the Air

for solo piano

--- Francis Pott

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for solo piano

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Composer Francis Pott
Year of Composition 2020
Duration ca.4'

Instrumentation Piano
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-fp1pota1


In April 2020, as the Coronavirus spread its tentacles across the UK and the wider world, the pianist Duncan Honeybourne contacted me to ask whether I would join other composers in each composing a short piano piece for his project Contemporary Piano Soundbites [CPS]. In his own later words: ‘each piece received its world première in a video recording posted online, and I invited donations for the Help Musicians UK Coronavirus Hardship Fund from those who enjoyed listening’. Once the first lockdown period had been relaxed, Duncan made a Contemporary Piano Soundbites CD recording for the Prima Facie label (details below).

Again in Duncan’s words:

‘Britain’s professional musicians are facing unprecedented hardship in the current situation, and …Help Musicians UK is helping many of the worst hit. By the end of May 2020, the CPS… had already raised over £2,000.00 for the Fund, being in the top 10% of Just Giving fund-raisers nationally during April’.

The Fund continues to benefit from sales of the CD and, where possible, the proceeds from live recital performances given by Duncan. In the same spirit, as composer of one of the pieces, I shall be donating 100% of personal royalty proceeds from sale of this score to Help Musicians UK – a drop in the ocean, admittedly, but a tiny step in a positive direction.

Duncan happened to ring me on a day when I had a few unexpected hours to spare. Unpremeditated pieces have no natural right to emerge meaningfully, and Poem of the Air was written, typeset and delivered all on the same day as it was requested; however, it was aided by memories of the spare but spell-binding setting of Longfellow’s quoted poem Snow-Flakes that features in A Time to Dance, Alec Roth’s hauntingly memorable oratorio (published by Edition Peters and recorded on Hyperion CDA 68144). Duncan rightly pointed out a similarity between the piano piece’s opening figuration and that of the Sonatina by John Ireland, but this is purely coincidental.

Poem of the Air is in a simple ternary form, with outer sections suggestive of the glacial numbness of snowbound winter, separated by a more florid and restless central passage. In performance the music lasts around 4 minutes.