Like "Córdoba”, Lorca’s "Canción del Naranjo Seco” was one of the very first poems to be incorporated in The Cortège. As with some of the other pieces, its basic form is that of chords changing under a sustained note or group of notes. The bass line descends in major and minor thirds, in strong steps.
The vocal melody is built on top of this, freely, as the poem dictated. One of the interesting things for me about setting these poems was that the language itself determined the character of the melodic lines. I found that though I started from a fairly abstract musical basis, those songs that are in French and Spanish, for example, took on the character of French and Spanish music, without any effort on my part to make them do so.
An eight-bar sequence of chords, which move over a pedal Eb in the bass. with a sustained Ab at the top, forms an intro to "Leñador". Kate sings the poem. accompanied by Georgie Born`s cello. On the second chorus, the theme is played by alto and tenor saxophones, bass guitar and guitar, before the whole orchestra comes in and builds into the central section, which features a trombone solo by Malcolm Griffiths. The solo is based on the same sequence of chords as the piano/cello intro, and this eight-bar sequence is repeated many times. Brass and reed figures build inexorably to the crowning scream of Dave Plews` lead trumpet: it is one of the peaks of The Cortège.
The song itself is full of the naked tragedy of life. The central solo section comes as a release, an expression of a primitive force, like the blues, the flamenco, the wake, the wild jazz parade that follows the New Orleans funeral. The trombone solo subsides, and we return to the song, played first in an arrangement for the full orchestra, then sung by Phil Minton, backed by a trio of alto, tenor and baritone saxes, before two voices, Kate and Phil in unison, conclude the song.