Music and Texts of Gary Bachlund


Winter - (2008)    

Walter de la Mare

for medium voice and piano


Clouded with snow
The cold winds blow,
And shrill on leafless bough
The robin with its burning breast
Alone sings now.

The rayless sun,
Day's journey done,
Sheds its last ebbing light
On fields in leagues of beauty spread
Unearthly white.

Thick draws the dark,
And spark by spark,
The frost-fires kindle, and soon
Over that sea of frozen foam
Floats the white moon.

[ 3 pages, circa 2' 30" ]


Walter de la Mare


The text is taken from The Listeners and Other Poems (1912), and speaks to the late afternoon during which it was composed. For a number of days, Berlin has been covered with the remnants of a snowfall held over for days by below freezing temperatures. At early dusk there is a special glow to the old snow and hardened ice making silvery the whiteness beneath as darkly graying sky.



Written for a limited vocal range, the piano is also written in shades of piano and softer with much sostenuto. After an introduction of triads clustered together, a mostly three-voiced accompaniment upholds the vocal line. A simple rise and fall of the vocal line gradually builds toward the top D sharp, and then a second verse begins a minor third below the first stanza's tonality.



The opening diatonic triads clustered together give way to the darker variant at measure 20, for winter can be both lovely and harsh, as de la Mare so well captures in three simple stanzas. The third stanza reprises the opening tonality and gestures for a moment with a short coda as the voice again repeats the title, "Winter," before the last clustered triads fade into quiet.




The score for Winter is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.