Unbidden Visions (2009)
Jeremy Thurlow (b. ….)
In March 1818 Keats was haunted by a nightmare. His thoughts and moods were invaded obsessively by sudden visions, in brilliant and unwanted clarity, of the remorselessly savage cycles of the natural world – what Tennyson later called 'Nature, red in tooth and claw'. I chanced across Keats's ruminations on these terrifying and melancholic visions in a strange, rambling verse letter he wrote to his friend J.H. Reynolds, and soon found myself wanting to set them to music.
Some time later came a request for a new piece for tenor, horn and piano, a combination firmly stamped with the hallmark of Benjamin Britten, and for that reason initially somewhat intimidating to write for. But once I had found the first musical idea, I was able to forget about this and found myself plunging back into Keats' nightmare vision. The piece was written in August 2008, and first performed by John McMunn, Alec Frank-Gemmill and Matthew Schellhorn at the Cambridge Music Festival, November 2009.
© Jeremy Thurlow, 2010