The Five Sacred Trees
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2008)|
John Williams composed The Five Sacred Trees for Judith LeClair, the principal bassoonist of the New York Philharmonic in 1995, to honor the orchestra's 150th anniversary. The first performance was given by LeClair and the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur on April 13 of that year. The orchestra consists of three flutes and piccolo, two oboes and English horn, two clarinets and bass clarinet, two bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, harp, piano, celesta, and strings. Performance time is approximately 26 minutes. Inspiration for the work also comes from the writings of British poet and novelist Robert Graves.
The work is composed of five movements, each representing a tree from ancient Celtic mythology.
The second movement is Tortan, the tree associated with magic, especially witchcraft. This movement features both the bassoon and the violin.
The fourth movement represents Craeb Uisnig, the ash. The ash was typically associated with strife. It is the shortest and least melodic movement.
The last movement is Dathi, named after tree that was the muse. The movement is slow and melancholy, featuring the flute as well as the bassoon. There is no gap between movements four and five.
The work has been recorded by LeClair and the London Symphony Orchestra, with Williams conducting. The recording is published by Sony Classical.