Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

House of Winter

Song-cycle for chorus or vocal sextet

audio sample: House of Winter
opus number: 125
completion date: 1986
duration: 10 minutes
movement titles: 1. We are folded all
2. Listen, somehwere outstide, a footfall
3. Such sudden storm and drifts
4. At last, the house of winter
scoring: Unaccompanied SATB chorus or vocal sextet (AATBBB or SATBBB)
world premiere: 23 June 1986, East Church, Kirkwall, Orkney (at the St. Magnus Festival)
The King's Singers
commissioner: The King's Singers with funds provided by the Ford Motor Company Ltd
dedication: The King's Singers
publisher: Chester Music
category: Vocal/choral work
text: Christmas poems by George Mackay Brown
programme note: Short Note by Paul Griffiths

This Orkney Christmas cycle can be sung equally by a sextet or choir (male or mixed). The setting is largely homphonic, in the 'adult' modal style of Solstice of Light and with a similarly characteristic inventiveness of vocal scoring, as in the storm sequence, with its whistling upper voices and eruptive bass line.
composer’s note: House of Winter is a setting of four Christmas poems by George Mackay Brown. The music is continuous, and though scored for unaccompanied voices, it becomes almost orchestral in its evocation of the calm, frozen sillness of an Orkney winter on the one hand, and the wildness of a December storm on the other.

Like Sea Runes, this work was originally written for the King's Singers' combination of two countertenors, tenor, two baritones and bass, but it may equally be performed by small choirs or other groups, with sopranos and contraltos taking the two highest parts.
recording: BBC Singers, Simon Joly conductor
Collins Classics 14632
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