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Variations on Papaver Rhoeas

Variations on Papaver RhoeasMichael Stimpson

Papaver Rhoeas is the Latin name for the poppy which is the symbol for the remembrance of  conflicts and wars, and in particular World War One. A feature of the First World War poppy is that it has four petals, and so I have created four short  variations, movements 1, 2, 4, and 5. For these pieces, I had in my mind the image of youth, anger, reflection and release, the latter being the exhilaration, if any, of surviving. But fundamental to Variations on Papaver Rhoeas is the more substantial third movement, a symbol of the central black core of the flower.

At the outset of drafting the piece, I had begun with this third movement under a title of The Hypocrisy of War. I had been struck by solemn-looking dignitaries and politicians on the day of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One - on that day a major new arms contract was announced in the UK.

Variations on Papaver Rhoeas forms the basis of a work for piano and orchestra, Silvered Night, recorded in September 2019  by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Hilary Davan Wetton with pianist Mark Bebbington as soloist, released in June 2021. 

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