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Pritchard: Lollay, Lollay
title 'Lollay, Lollay' is taken from a 14th century poem, in which a mother
reflects on the suffering and despair that her child will inevitably meet in
life; and also on man's inability to escape suffering and death. The first two
stanzas of the poem, in a literal modern English translation, read as follows:
lollay, little child, why do you weep so sorely?
beasts and birds, the fish in the sea,
poem's gloomy view of life is suggested by the sombre nature of the music, in
particular by its instrumentation, but the parallels between the poem and the
music run deeper than mere similarity of mood. The poem is a perverted lullaby,
and all the musical material of the piece is related, however distantly, to
traditional lullaby rhythms and melodies that are essentially 'rocking' in
character. However, traditional elements are subtly distorted and transformed
thereby creating a piece which is only reminiscent of lullabies without being
one in itself.
first performance of the piece was given in 1984 by Uroboros Ensemble, conducted
by the composer.