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Audio Library

Dances and Devilment and Sunlit Airs

from "Twelve Transcendental Concert Studies on Themes from the Australian Poets"

This study intertwines images of the three contrasted types suggested by the poem in a mosaic of constantly fluctuating textures from which more extensive statements of one or the other emerge at three or four points. Its deliberately capricious form is intended as a counterfoil to my other Transcendental Study, Wild Cherries and Honeycomb,which is a moto perpetuo with a single structural sweep, and unlike the atonal Under Aldebaran it is in C major (sort of!).

Dances and Devilment and Sunlit Airs
Over the hills they took him and black prayers
Fell as a frost on tenderlings a near.
Dances and devilment and sunlit airs
Were all so full of him that yester year.

[from John Shaw Neilson: "The Lover Dies" in Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence ed Cliff Hanna, 49 (St Lucia: Queensland University Press, 1991)]