Goddess for string orchestra was commissioned by the Ida Carroll Trust as an ‘in memoriam’ for the Cheshire artist Dorothy Bradford who died in July 2008 aged 90. It received its first performance in June 2009 from Manchester Camerata, directed by Richard Howarth, in St Mary’s Church, Nantwich, Cheshire.
In looking for a particular painting from the artist’s considerable output on which to base my new work I was drawn to one entitled Goddess (1980), unusual in the artist’s output for its subject matter. In a largely blue canvas it depicts a seemingly lonely reclining female figure – sensuous, beguiling, and preoccupied. I have written a slow movement which tries to capture this haunting image in sound.
Written for a string orchestra of 15 players, it features an important role for a solo viola (the Goddess of the painting). In turn, the music tries to reflect the different moods I felt from the canvass – sinister, reflective, haunting, captivating, and peaceful. The work begins and ends on the pitch of A (a double bass harmonic) and is diverse in its contrast of chromatic and diatonic harmonies. There is a strong lyrical presence throughout, particularly towards the end of the piece.
More memorable, though, was composer-in-residence Edward Gregson’s ‘Goddess’, with sonorities and elegiac yearning from the viola soloist Rachel Roberts, sensual lyricism throughout, and a beautifully conceived ending where the music evaporated in shadowy threads of melody, harmonics and tremolo shivers.
David Hart, Birmingham Post, August 2017
Yet there was another stand-out moment ….the ecstatic Goddess (2009), by the composer-in-residence Edward Gregson. It was fabulously played by the solo violist Rachel Roberts, the Presteigne Festival Orchestra and George Vass.
Rebecca Franks, The Times, August 2017
And then there was Goddess, a seductively lyrical work by this year’s composer-in-residence, Edward Gregson, featuring the rich sonorities of violist Rachel Roberts.
Emma Lilley, Hereford Times, August 2017
Also on this varied programme for string orchestra [was] Edward Gregson’s beautifully lyrical Goddess ….
Paul Conway, Musical Opinion, October 2017