Judith Weir A Song of Departure (2017)
For violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano
Thinking about the Schubert Ensemble's farewell season, I recalled Schubert's famous song Abschied (from Schwanengesang, words by Rellstab). The narrator departs on horseback, biddinga cheerful or perhaps defiant goodbye ("Ade!") to town, trees, gardens, maidens. Faint misgivings strike him only in the final verse, where the music at last visits a minor key before rejoining the major mode and trotting off into the distance.
For this brief (four minute) farewell piece I have tried to 're-inhabit' Schubert's Abschied. After a brief evocation of its musical themes (in a faster tempo - this is a speedier horse) there are goodbye waves in turn from viola, violin, cello, double bass and piano. By the time the coda is reached, the performers seem to have travelled sqiftly up the road, already out of sight.
A Song of Departure is dedicated to the Schubert Ensemble, my dear friends and colleagues of the last thirty-five years.
© Judith Weir
A Song of Departure was commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble with funds gratefully received from The Schubert Ensemble Trust. It was first performed by the Schubert Ensemble on 121st March 2018 at the Ensemble's Farewell Concert at Wigmore Hall, London.