Nature has provided inspiration for countless musicians over the centuries. Award-winning composer Douglas Knehans has just released a new CD entitled Unfinished Earth, which evokes the raw and powerful forces of nature.
It contains two works, the first is called Tempest, a concerto for flute and orchestra inspired by three specific winds. The first part is entitled Ostro, which is named for a southerly Mediterranean wind. The second part is Mistral, a powerful wind blowing from southern France into the Mediterranean that can reach speeds of 115 mph (185 kph). The third part of the piece is called Etesian, inspired by strong dry winds through the Aegean Sea.
Gareth Davies, Principal Flute of the London Symphony Orchestra, talks about this challenging piece in the video below.
The other major work on the CD is Unfinished Earth, a work for orchestra comprising of three movements. Part 1, Tempering, is inspired by the formation of the earth itself. The music is in turns tranquil and explosive, always with a sense of motion, of elements shifting and coming together. The second part, Eternal Ocean, is inspired by the sea in all its vast, flowing serenity. The final part, Tearing Drift, is about the formation of the continents, a thunderous soundscape with moments of quiet calm that build to a dramatic climax.
These monumental forces of nature are almost beyond human comprehension, even when we know scientifically why things happen the way they do. Music is a powerful way to explore such forces, to bring us to a deeper understanding of their true essence.
Mikel Toms, who conducts the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra on these recordings, says that Unfinished Earth is unlike anything he has ever conducted before, and follows in a rich tradition of artists inspired by landscape for their work. See his interview below.
The earth truly is “unfinished,” and is still moving and changing beneath our feet. Our cities and monuments, which we’ve built over centuries, seem fragile and almost trivial in comparison to the seismic forces beneath the earth’s surface. And we humans seem even more fragile, which can be a scary thought. Perhaps we can never truly appreciate the larger forces of nature, but the music of Unfinished Earth brings us closer.
To learn more or purchase the CD, visit this link.