Music of the Trees 3: The Five Sacred Trees

yewJohn Williams is massively known for his massive body of film music. But one of my favorite modern works is his concerto The Five Sacred Trees. I have the disk of the London Symphony performance with Judith LeClair. It is quite fine. You can find any number of orchestral performances on YouTube. I certainly recommend the acquisition of the cd.

For something a bit more intimate, check the harp and bassoon duet here in the third movement, presenting the yew.

The composer speaks:

The Tree of Ross (or Eó Rosa) is a yew, and although the yew is often referred to as a symbol of death and destruction, The Tree of Ross is often the subject of much rhapsodizing in the literature. It is referred to as “a mother’s good,” “Diadem of the Angels,” and “faggot of the sages.” Hence the lyrical character of this movement, wherein the bassoon oncants [sic] and is accompanied by the harp.

The bassoon hasn’t gotten much respect since Vivaldi. But since I first heard this work twenty years ago, it represents the age and dignity of trees so well. I hope you enjoy this listening.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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