Is Just to Say was written for Peter
Pears. The thrill of working with this
celebrated artist produced two further, briefer cycles, for his
collaboration with Osian Ellis's
Blue Doom of Summer,
op. 35/1 and Willow Cycle, op. 35/2)); and
then a third, The Noon's Repose,
whose final song, virtually a mini-cantata setting On
a Drop of Dew by Marvell,
was dedicated to Britten's memory. This
deceptively fragile piece was laden with unsuspected potential. It
yielded the heart of a later piece (Ode,
op. 45) for Pears's 60th
birthday; and the nub
of something utterly antithetical, an extended Sonata movement
for horn and orchestra (op. 43a) that eventually stood as the first
movement of a concerto.
The two smaller choral pieces, The Consolation
of Music, op.
38/1 and He-She-Together, op. 38/2, are spin-offs, side-effects,
sometimes gathering in and rounding off old material, from this
diverse and confusing time in which I had a sense of losing direction,
even of losing self.