Beyond the River God

for harpsichord or piano

Graham Lynch

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for harpsichord or piano

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Composer Graham Lynch
Year of Composition 2013
Duration ca.19'
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-gl1btrg1


Beyond the River God was commissioned by Finnish harpsichordist Assi Karttunen and first performed by her in 2013.

Out of all the harpsichord music that I’ve written Beyond the River God is the work that comes closest to having a dialogue with the Clavecinists of the 18th century, especially François Couperin. Although the style of the music is very different the form of the piece consists of a five-movement structure that is built around the rondeau/couplet idea.

Pieces one, three, and five, are rondeaux; each one having three statements of the principle idea, which are interspersed with episodes. Movements two and four are couplets that act as episodes within the overall form. As the music progresses through the five movements earlier material starts to appear until, at the final rondeau, all the motifs are conceived from previous melodic sources.

The iconography of the river god is one of periodic repetition; originating in Ancient Greece it was also common in Roman times, then re-surfaced in Renaissance Italy and spread throughout Europe. Again, the in 20th century, it re-appears in the Vollard Suite of Picasso. My appropriation of this imagery into music is through the repetitious form of the rondeau, in which the music gains momentum as it is gathered into itself and flows towards its conclusion in a manner – like a river – that is always the same and yet always different.

Beyond the River God has also been performed on the piano, with the premiere being given by Yukie Smith in Cambridge in 2015.

There is a recording by Assi Karttunen on the Divine Art label.