Israfel

Mark Simpson (1988)

Israfel 2014

3(II&III=picc).3(III=corA).3(III=bcl).2.dbn-4.3(I=picc tpt).3.1-timp.perc(3):glsp/2vib/t.bells/crot/whip/SD/2BD(med,lg)/pitched gong(F3)/2tam-t(med,lg)-harp-pft-strings(14.12.10.8.6)
Duration 
12
Genre 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

When I read Edgar Allan Poe’s take on the Koranic angel Israfel, "whose heart-strings are a lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures", I knew we were on the same page.

I wanted to write a piece that sang, floated, morphed, moved, moved us, lifted us, had power, had fragility, had hope, uncertainty, beauty - something otherworldly, something transcendental - something to shake us.

His poem perfectly conjures up the myriad emotions I wanted to take the listener through. In terms of structure the piece is divided into two parts. The first part has an ever-shifting, singing quality, and the second a faster more determined drive towards a dramatic climax. The coda however is bittersweet, as in the poem, which concludes with the author wondering whether if their places were switched, he could make a better melody from his lyre.

Mark Simpson, 2015

Performances 
2.4.15 City Halls, Glasgow: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Litton
9.8.16 BBC Proms, London: BBC Philharmonic / Juanjo Mena
3
Flute
2nd & 3rd doubling piccolo
3
Oboe
3rd doubling cor anglais
3
Clarinet
3rd doubling bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
1st doubling piccolo trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
3
Percussion
glockenspiel, 2 vibraphone, tubular bells, crotales, whip, side drum, 2 bass drum (medium, large), pitched gong (F3), 2 tam-tam (medium, large)
14
Violin
12
Violin II
10
Viola
8
Cello
6
Double bass
1
Harp
1
Piano
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