The wine-dark sea

by Matthew Whittall

Empty sheet

Matthew Whittall

The wine-dark sea

Music Finland


The Mediterranean looms large in my family history and genealogy. Learning the mythology of Greece and Turkey as a child through books and bedtime stories, I came to associate this body of water with mystery, no small amount of adventure and, despite my strong physical and psychological attachment to the North, a distant, muted sense of ultimate home. As I draw primarily on landscape for creative impetus, during a trip to the region in 2007, I expected to find in the lands of my ancestors a potent new source of ideas.

Although the vistas were arresting and beautiful, they did not resonate in me on a deep level. What I – a northerner by more than birth and temperament, it would seem – was allowed to carry away from that trip were merely fond recollections of a foreign place, profoundly "other" from my experience: the iconic, archetypal "Mother Sea" and its numberless shades of blue, the quality of the sunlight, the smell of flowers and herbs in the air. These are the impressions informing The wine-dark sea, a dreamlike postcard written after the fact, through a haze of memory. I could add to this a feeling of blissful honeymoon detachment and, in the choice of Baroque guitar and theorbo, a sense of the contemporary overlaying a deeper antiquity.

The wine-dark sea was commissioned by the Helsinki Guitar Duo (Mikko Ikäheimo and Rody van Gemert), and is dedicated to them.

© Matthew Whittall (2008)


2guit [baroque guit, theorbo]


Chamber Works


Helsinki Guitar Duo (Rody van Gemert, Baroque guitar, Mikko Ikäheimo, theorbo), Helsinki, November 23, 2008.

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by and dedicated to the Helsinki Guitar Duo (Mikko Ikäheimo and Rody van Gemert).

PDF for promotional use


Archive number


+ Add information


5 pages

7.44 € 6.00 € excl. vat