for soprano, treble recorder, oboe, violin and cello

Rob Keeley

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for soprano, treble recorder, oboe, violin and cello

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Composer Rob Keeley
Year of Composition 2017
Duration 3'30"
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-rk1c1


This is a short and lively setting of an extraordinary fragment (in mediaeval French) of Jean de Meung’s Roman de la Rose. (ca 1275). It’s written in a playful, cod-organum style (a la Pérotin) and offered to Gordon Crosse with admiration and friendship on his 80th birthday.

Vers les cieus arrier m’en retour,Qui bien font quanque faire doivent Aus creatures, qui reçoivent Les celestiaus influences Selonc leurs diverses substances. Les venz font il contrarier, L’air enflamber, braire et crier, Et esclater en maintes parz Par tonneres et par esparz, Qui tabourent, timbrent et trompent Tant que les nues s’en desrompent Par les vapeurs qu’il font lever, Si leur fait les ventres crever La chaleur et li mouvemenz, Par orribles tournoiemenz, Et tempester et jeter foudres, Et par terre eslever les poudres, Voire tours et clochiers abatre Et mains vieus arbres si debâtre Que de terre en sont arachie; Ja si fort n’erent atachié…

I turn once more to speak of the stars, which duly perform all that they ought to do towards all created things, which receive celestial influences according to their diverse natures. It is because of the stars that the winds strive together and the sky flares up and roars and wails and splits open in many a place with thunder and lightning, drumming and rattling and trumpeting until the clouds are torn by the vapours they give rise to, and their bellies are ripped open by the heat and rush of air in dreadful whirlwinds; and tempests rise up and thunderbolts are hurled, and dust storms arise over the earth, and even towers and steeples are blown down, and many old trees so shaken that they are torn out of the earth; be they attached never so strongly… [trans Brian Woledge, The Penguin Book of French Verse I, 1961]

The first performance was given on October 22, 2018, Martin Harris Centre, University of Manchester, by Lesley – Jane Rogers (soprano), John Turner (recorder, and who also commissioned it), Richard Simpson (oboe) and members of the Solem Quartet.