"I gathered together four of Carson’s own titles: The Sea Around Us; ‘The Lost Wood’ and ‘Rivers of Death’ (from the book Silent Spring); and Silent Spring itself. With these phrases as cues, I could fashion a one-movement orchestral tone poem in four sections that tries to create its own dramatic and emotional journey from beginning to end, without referring specifically to any scientific details.
"The result is music at once ‘abstract’ and ‘programmatic’ (admittedly fuzzy terms). ‘The Sea Around Us’ is murky water music: it rises from the depths of the orchestra until it reaches a grand but melancholy chorale evoking the vast expanses of the sea. ‘The Lost Wood’ calls forth a desolate chaconne (i.e., a set of variations over a cyclic chord progression). The somber atmosphere grows more and more intense until it leads to a short, scathing scherzo, ‘Rivers of Death.’ This diabolical ‘death scherzo,’ too, escalates until it cannot go any further, instead bursting into the ecstatic mass singing that begins the final section, ‘Silent Spring.’ But – like the insects and birds that Rachel Carson wrote about – one by one those ecstatic orchestral voices fall quiet. We are left with near-silence."
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