(Album descriptions are from the Valley Entertainment website)
Bill Douglas’s most beloved recording and for good reason. Classic poems by W.B. Yeats, William Blake, Robert Burns, and Alfred Graves are set into lush sonic images of the greenscapes of Ireland, Scotland, and England. A stunning album, with its British Isles source material, sumptuous harmonies, and gorgeous, lyrical melodies, the mind floats gently across these natural greenscapes in their greatest serenity. But these are no mere landscapes. Douglas has fitted his vast experience in both jazz and classical music to that great heritage and the poetry of those who have lived and felt those scenes. Two-thirds of this collection is set to some of the greatest poetry of the English-speaking peoples, while the remainder are instrumental settings of lyrical, melodic invention. The set opens and closes with the title piece, a choral version of the traditional Gaelic blessing, a kind of litany wishing for the recipient the deep peace of “running waves,” “flowing air,” “quiet air,” “shining stars” and “the gentle night.” (A solo vocal version appeared on Douglas’ Hearts of Space debut, Jewel Lake, in 1988.)
The other works include Robert Burns’ poem “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” William Blake’s “Piping Down the Valleys Wild,” “The Voices of Children.” and “O Earth, O Earth, Return” (his derivation of the Latin prayer Dona Nobis Pacem). “I love poetry almost as much as music,” confesses Douglas, “and it is particularly satisfying for me to present these musical settings of some of my favorite poems. For me, these poems express the utmost tenderness, purity, joy and poignancy.” The recording features the Ars Nova Singers, under the direction of Thomas Morgan. Douglas accompanies the choral settings, playing synthesizers, piano and bassoon.
Of Deep Peace, Douglas adds, “I wanted to write the most beautiful melodies that I could, so for inspiration I went to one of the great melodic traditions in the world, the British Isles folk music tradition.” It’s precisely this inspiration, combined with the lush influence of the Renaissance choral music tradition, that gives Deep Peace its unique beauty.