The Dream of the Rood

John Casken (1949)

The Dream of the Rood 2008

110.ssax.1 - 1010 - perc - hp - strings (00101)
Duration 
30
Solist 
Text Author 
Language 
Publisher 

The Anglo-Saxon poem The Dream of the Rood was probably written in the 8th Century and is the earliest dream-vision poem in Old English. A fragment of the poem from the section that describes the crucifixion can be found carved on the Ruthwell Cross in Dumfriesshire, and set in stone at a time when Ruthwell was part of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria. In responding to a commission for the Hilliard Ensemble, I was keen to find a dramatic text, but one that would also invite a musical response appropriate to the very nature of this kind of vocal quartet. Writing for the Hilliards together with a mixed instrumental ensemble, and for a generous cathedral acoustic, has had a strong influence on the types of textures and sonorities I have used. The structure of the work is dictated by the form of the poem, but the music could also be seen as consisting of a sequence of motets with both vocal and instrumental interludes.

John Casken

Performances 
8.10.08 Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral: Hilliard Ensemble/Ensemble 10-10/Clark Rundell
6.7.14 Brinkburn Music Festival: Hilliard Ensemble/Royal Northern Sinfonia
8.10.14 Utrecht, Netherlands: Hilliard Ensemble/ASKO Ensemble/Clark Rundell
9.10.14 Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam: Hilliard Ensemble/ASKO Ensemble/Clark Rundell
10.10.14 The Hague: Hilliard Ensemble/ASKO Ensemble/Clark Rundell
1
Flute
doubling piccolo and alto flute
1
Oboe
cor anglais
1
Saxophone
soprano sax
1
Bassoon
doubling contrabassoon
1
Horn
1
Trombone
1
Percussion
crotales, vibraphone, marimba, bell plate, sizzle cymbal, Swiss cow bell, gong, tam-tam, 2 bongos, 2 slit drums, wood drum, 2 congas, 2 bass drum, maracas, 5 temple blocks, vibraslap
1
Viola
1
Double bass
1
Harp
(Esc)