Carlton Classics 3036601092
Michael Nyman wrote this suite in five movements towards the end of 1997, having received a commission from English Sinfonia. The Sinfonia became the resident orchestra in Stevenage during 1997 and decided that a piece of music would be the most memorable and lasting celebration of their new relationship with the town. The title Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks is derived from Sithenaece, the Saxon name for a small settlement in the area of Stevenage close to St. Nicholas’ Church. The modern translation of the Saxon title is ‘Strong Oak’; Sithenaece developed over the years into the modern day Stevenage.
In parallel to the way Stevenage Town grew into a number of independent settlements including Chells, Broadwater and Shepall, Strong on Oaks, Strong on the Causes of Oaks consists of five independent movements with individual orchestrations. Also in common with the town, the movements join together to form a strong and united whole; truly this is a Suite for Stevenage.
Nyman said of this piece: “This work takes its starting point from my String Quartet No.4 (1995) and the title derives from the old English origins of the name Stevenage, via Tony Blair”. [One of Tony Blair’s election slogans was “Tough on Crime, Though on the Causes of Crime”.]
“It is dedicated to Simon Jeffes, friend and colleague, founder of the Penguin Caf? Orchestra, who died disgracefully young on 11th December 1997. When Iheard of his death I was in the process of orchestrating the final page of the score: in his honour at this point the second violins play 4-note pizzicato chords in the style of the ukelele of which he was master.”
? English Sinfonia