Farewell is a large-scale symphonic Adagio lasting about twenty minutes. In this piece I’ve decided to split the Wind Ensemble into two separate ‘orchestras.’ The first ensemble consists of clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tubas and harsh sounding percussion; and the music is predominantly desperate and anguished. The instruments in the second ‘orchestra’ are flutes, oboes, bass clarinet, bassoons, horns and more gentle percussion, and the mood is more calming and introspective. At first the ensembles play exclusively from each other, but eventually they merge and reach a massive climax focussing on a chord of D minor. At this point a third ‘ensemble’ is heard for the first time – the notes C and F sharp (which have not been played at all in the work so far). These notes are played ppppp and come to haunt the end of the work. The title refers to Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, but instead of all the players walking off leaving two instrumentalists to finish, here a solo oboe and clarinet step forward and quietly lament while the rest of the band quietly intone an eternal modus in diabilis.
Farewell was commissioned for the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales by the Welsh Amateur Music Federation at Ty Cerydd – Music Centre Wales.