Derri Lewis’s ‘River Image’ (2019 version)

We had a great evening presenting our Shadow of Stalin concert, on 19th October, with an enthusiastic reception from our audience in the Great Hall of the University of Reading.

One of the highlights of the evening was the first performance of Derri Lewis’s new version of ‘River Image’. The recording we made on the night, along with Derri’s programme note, are below. Enjoy!

RIVER IMAGE is a depiction of the ever-changing identities of the Taff (South Wales) and the Thames (South England) across their course, over the seasons, and from night to day — these contrasts are presented like a multi-faceted crystal, slowly turning and revealing new colours embedded within.
The first image is a joyful picture of the rustling of fast flowing water, rippling chirps of nearby birds, and reflections of clouds playing on the stream’s surface.  Listen out for the repeated two-note stutter first introduced by the oboe that transforms into many different guises throughout the piece; an exciting syncopation in the flutes, a soaring melody in the Eb clarinet, and a heroic fanfare in the trumpets. 
The second, darker mood is inspired by the artificial re-routed rivers that flow beneath both towns feeding Reading’s canals and that fuelled Cardiff’s busy water-side trade dating back centuries.  As the water creeps below the surface, a dark chugging rhythm drives the momentum of the music to uncomfortable lurches.

This is a revision of my earlier work of the same name, written for the APO’s award-winning ‘Schumann at the Station’ event, which saw the orchestra playing at the north window of Reading Station overlooking the Thames. This adaptation is a big change from the original, which was my first piece for orchestra — in this new version, I’ve recycled and refined a lot of the broad brushstrokes from before (the bold opening is sure to grab attention amongst the bustle of a rush hour train station!) I have tried to capture the same sense of excitement and chaos that inspired me to write the original piece even though many of the musical ideas are new.

With thanks to Fiona Talkington for this photo