Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Hilary Davan Wetton
Mark Bebbington, piano
Silvered Night has a background of historical conflict as it was based on a work for solo piano, Variations on Papaver Rhoeas, written to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. Papaver Rhoeas is the Latin name of the Remembrance poppy, and this solo piano piece had been set in the shape of the flower, four variations (petals) surrounding the central black core. Although Silvered Night opens with music from the first variation, and uses some of the last variation as a small cadenza, it is the central core of Papaver which provides the bulk of this new work for piano and orchestra. Certainly, elements of the conflict still exist in Silvered Night, the aggression of the early stages with it’s short motif for one, and the quiet, rather eerie central section which ends with a peaceful elegy, a dove emerging from the broken landscape.
But just as the time of the anniversary has moved on, so has Silvered Night. The introduction of new material, the adjustment of shape and texture, all bring it closer to the more traditional piano concerto form. Certainly I still recall Siegfried Sassoon’s evocative phrase, “the slow silver moment” but now it is tempered by the span of time, not forgetting but moving on, as exemplified by the majesty and light which closes the piece.
Silvered Night was recorded in 2019 by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and pianist Mark Bebbington, conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton and is now available to purchase as a download, or paired with The Angry Garden on CD.