Chesterton's Gardens (2016)
Cello and piano
Piano trio version also available
Written for Philip Sheegog
Premiered May 2016
Antonio Hallongren, cello, Sophy HY Chung, piano
Chesterton's Garden is a contemplative composition for cello and piano, written for cellist Philip Sheegog. Inspired by G. K. Chesterton's writings and the captivating world of "The Secret Garden," the piece reflects my bittersweet emotions during a significant move from New York City to the West Coast, after spending eight years immersed in its vibrant energy.
The composition draws its inspiration from the enigmatic description of a garden and house found in Chesterton's work—a place with no exit into the outside world, symbolizing unexpected paths and unchosen circumstances. Chesterton's Garden explores the metaphor of the secluded garden as a reflection of the hidden chambers within our hearts, where feelings of loneliness and seclusion endure even amidst the presence of loved ones.
Through sentimental melodies and dreamy textures, the cello takes on a poignant voice, depicting the spirit of the secret garden, while the piano weaves delicate harmonies and textures representing the surrounding world. Chesterton's Garden invites listeners on an introspective journey, encouraging reflection on the transient nature of life and the resilience found within the hidden spaces of our souls.
"It was an old house, with high walls and tall poplars almost overhanging the Seine; but the oddity—and perhaps the police value—of its architecture was this: that there was no ultimate exit at all except through this front door, which was guarded by Ivan and the armoury. The garden was large and elaborate, and there were many exits from the house into the garden. But there was no exit from the garden into the world outside; all round it ran a tall, smooth, unscalable wall with special spikes at the top; no bad garden, perhaps, for a man to reflect in whom some hundred criminals had sworn to kill.”
– Nicky Sohn