Anthony Powers Nightsongs (2006)
For piano quartet
This piece arose from memories of two visits made to the magnificent gardens of Ninfa, south-east of Rome. Staying in the garden guesthouse, the unique atmosphere and romantic beauty of Ninfa, those early summer nights when intoxicating scents, moonlit vistas and the sound of nightingales flooded the senses, were unforgettable.
Reflecting the long history of Ninfa (an ancient township among whose remains the garden was created from the early 20th century onwards) the piece takes one of Monteverdi’s best known madrigals, Amor: Lamento della Ninfa, (which has no connection with the place) as its musical source. Particular phrases and harmonies from the madrigal are developed and varied in my own idiom, rather as a garden may grow and evolve from its original planting, and very much as the roses and other climbers at Ninfa now envelope the ruins of the town. The piece is in one movement of about eleven minutes, framed by short but quite explosive gestures offsetting and containing the otherwise generally more tranquil, lyrical and restrained music.
© Anthony Powers
Nightsongs was commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble, to whom it is dedicated, with funds generously made available by the Schubert Ensemble Trust. The first performance was given by the Schubert Ensemble at the Purcell Room, London on 29th February 2008.