conductor · composer
rory wainwright johnston
For solo Viola
Winter’s bastard was commissioned by Toby Holden for his recital on the 4th September 2019. The piece was written to accompany a selection of songs from Schubert’s Winterreise.
The construction of Winter’s bastard was approached by quoting material from the songs Toby had chosen from the cycle. I went through the songs and found a bit of music I liked from each one - mostly from the piano accompaniment, which often, and unfairly, sinks into the background - and collected them all together. From there I began a process of degradation, taking important lines and chromatically diminishing or augmenting them, taking rhythmic motifs and intensifying them, and generally bastardising the original music - hence the title of the work.
I wanted to maintain the lyrical quality of some of these lines, whilst also putting the material into a more brutal, literal sonic context of winter, with sparsity and harsh conditions being the norm. The timbral capabilities of stringed instruments has always been something I have enjoyed playing with, and the sound of molto sul ponticello playing has always instilled in me a cold and distant - almost evil and snarling - feeling, which was exactly the feeling I wanted to evoke here, hence its abundant use.