Celtic Fanfares is a 4 movement work for large orchestra lasting 32 mins.
Celtic Fanfares 1 (4 mins)
Celtic Fanfares 2 (11 mins)
Celtic Fanfares 3 (6 mins)
Celtic Fanfares 4 (11 mins)
Celtic Fanfares was composed between 1988 and 2000 and featured on the 2003 Chandos Records release 'Walking the wild Rhondda - a disc of virtual orchestra realisations by Ben Heneghan and Ian Lawson.
Celtic Fanfares 1 was composed in 1988. This short movement was my first purely concert music composition to be composed after nearly a decade specialising in film and television music. Additional movements followed piece-meal over the next twelve years.
The problem writing this piece was that I wanted to use self-contained tunes as the basic building material. I was struck by the idea that, apparently, you cannot do anything with folk-tunes except play them louder! I wanted to find out if this was actually true. In the event it only proved to be half true; you can also play them backwards or upside down, combine them with other tunes, de-construct them and then reconstruct them in different forms, use them as leitmotifs for imaginary characters; you can even play them quieter.
I also wanted to avoid anything that sounded obviously like 'development'. So often extended orchestral pieces derived from folk-like material abandon that harmonic and melodic language in order to 'develop' - although, of course, something has to happen once the tune has been played.
All but one of the tunes are original. I do not know anything about the trumpet tune in the middle of Celtic Fanfares 4, except that it is Irish and I have probably remembered it incorrectly.
The first few pages of Celtic Fanfares 4 are also modelled on the opening of the Saltarello from Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. That was a big help!
Lawson's Four Celtic Fanfares are not in the English brass tradition of Bliss and Elgar although they are certainly celebratory in character. The first brims with fiercely flowing, indefatigable exuberance - part Tippett; part Nyman. The second has a brassy magnificence and in its appealing melodic content there is a touch of John Barry. The third seems to inhabit Copland's 'tender land'. The piece yawns and stretches into a harmonically crunching climax. The skipping motoric power of the final fanfare reminds me of William Mathias (in the Dance Overture and the praising sections of Lux Aeterna and This Worldes Joie). It dissolves into a sky darkened by rain-heavy clouds which finally burst into four dactyls of lightning. Back to the music … Once you have surmounted any prejudices against synthesised orchestral sounds you will instantly relate to Lawson’s rhythmic and melodic power
Slightly disconcerting though this is (the virtual orchestra), the music is engaging enough to take your mind off it. In his Celtic Fanfares Lawson mixes an Irish folk song, several of his own tunes and elements of a Mendelssohn saltarello into a lively, Holstian extravaganza... Perhaps because of their background in rock and film, both composers (Ben Heneghan and Ian Lawson) imbue their predominantly melodic music with dance rhythms and emotional directness.
Duration: 32 mins
3 flutes (3 doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon.
4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba.
Timpani, 3 percussion players, piano/celesta, harp
I would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in giving the first performance of this work. Perusal scores and demo CD available on request.