A short suite for Cello and Piano,
inspired by the poetry of R. S. Thomas
I was first introduced to the poetry of Ronald Stuart Thomas (1913 – 2000) while studying for my A Levels, and from the start, they had a profound effect on me. They seemed to be songs without music. Over the years, each time I returned to them, the more I felt compelled to add this missing element – purely for personal enjoyment, rather than general release (at this stage). Finally, after many false starts, I started doing this, typesetting the songs on my computer as I wrote. The MIDI sound I chose for the vocal part was the Cello, and the more I listened to this combination of Cello and Piano, the more I felt it suited the music. And so the songs without music became songs without words (unless you are reading the poems while listening to the music).
Each movement is a response to the particular poem which gives the movement its title.
‘Return’ spoke to the number of times I had tried to start the project, only to be sidetracked by other work.
‘The Word’ shows a bleak insight into human nature, particularly relevant at this time of release, when a global pandemic is forcing ‘social distancing’ on the population.
‘Alive’ helps remind us that the message of new life that is Easter is writ large around us at this time of year, if only we open ourselves to it.
Finally, ‘The Fair’ seemed to me to be almost metaphorical for how certain populations are experiencing political leadership at this moment in time.
That all of the poems used as inspiration are more than thirty years old but could easily have been written in the last few weeks says something of R. S. Thomas’s insight into ‘what it is to be [hu]man’. We would all do well to pay attention to him.