Poem in Depression, at Wei Village

for soprano voice, flute, viola, cello and piano

Tim Souster

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for soprano voice, flute, viola, cello and piano

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Composer Tim Souster
Year of Composition 1965
Duration -
Categories (all composers) ,
Catalogue ID ce-ts1pind1


Poem in Depression, at Wei Village is a setting of a translation by Arthur Waley of a Chinese poem by Po Chü-i.* The song is, first, a response to the challenge of making something bigger than a miniature (in both manner and size) out of a miniature text. Secondly there is an attempt to create a coherent harmonic language by serial means. The series is grouped into four three-note chords (heard in the opening bars) which, towards the climax of the work, are made to clash with triadic outbursts in the piano part which are not derived from the series.

©1966 Tim Souster

‘The most original work was Tim Souster’s ‘Poem in Depression, at Wei Village’, sung by Noelle Barker. This 23-year-old composer showed remarkable independence of mind, not least in the way his setting differs from Britten’s of the same poem by Po Chü-i. If in the Britten a freely roving vocal line is sparsely punctuated by guitar, with Souster the musical essence is given to a piano quartet while the melancholy resides in dejectedly repeated notes in the voice.’

– Peter Stadlen, Daily Telecraph, 11 July 1966

‘The one piece that maintained interest was Tim Souster’s Poem in Depression, at Wei Village … The composer’s declared aim to embody a world of stagnation and futility was imaginatively realized from the very outset, where slow dragging chords presented quite startlingly the numbed ticking of depressed time, and much of the rest of the work was on a similar level. In fact the poetic atmosphere was cleverly maintained by a contained and natural flow of musical ideas whose continuing relevance was always audible and by a strongly imagined sound world whose significance was structured rather than purely colouristic.’ From Our Special Correspondent

– Cheltenham 10 July 1966 (unidentified news cutting)