D

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A piece for solo piano

Note : Dancing with Pannonica

Dancing with Pannonica

Thsi piece was written for the 70th birthday of Peter Hanser-Strecker, head of Schott Music. It is dedicated to him, and to the memory of Steve Lacy. The music relates to the solo piano music of Thelonious Monk for whom Pannonica, the nickname of the Englsih aristocrat Baroness Nica Rothschild. She was passionate about jazz and was Monk's patron for many years - Charlie Parker died in her New York apartment.



Duration: 10’
Instrumentation (i): horn, tuba, piano, vibes.
First performance: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 15 April 1978.
Instrumentation (ii): harmonium, tuba, flute, clarinet, harpsichord.
Video performance, Sheffield University, May 1978



A setting of extracts from Psalm 69 for choir (the Swedish Radio Choir) and a group of early music instruments (Serikon): cornetto, mute cornetto, baroque trombone, dulcian; three baroque violas, lirone; organ, electric guitar, theorbo.

Note : De Profundis Aquarum

De Profundis Aquarum

The piece was commissioned for a project called Aqua Alta, which relates to the fact that Venice is sinking and links this with the whole question of the destruction of the environment. The text, from Psalm 69, reflects these concerns in an abstract way.

Fior me it was a pleasure to work for the first time with a group of baroque and renaissance instruments and to take on board all kinds of questions about specific techniques, tuning and so on, and to work directly with some very fine and highly individual musicians, who were invariably helpful. My main link was with the director of Serikon, the baroque trombonist Daniel Stigall, who introduced me to various musicians, with whom I worked personally or through correspondence. 

As a result we have future projects involving my own singer Anna Maria Friman and John Potter, with cornetto, shawm and trombone. (see photo)

 

 



Music for the ballet New Work by Edouard Lock, for La La La Human Steps.

For 4 players: saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor/baritone), viola, cello, piano

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Note : Dido and Orfeo

Dido and Orfeo

The music for Dido and Orfeo involves a reworking of music from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, just as my previous collaboration with Edouard Lock, Amjad, took the Romantic ballet - Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty as its source.

The music is for a small ensemble, four players, playing saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor/baritone), viola, cello and piano. The original performance and subsequent touring performances, were directed by pianist Njo Kong Kie, who also directed Amjad. The other performers were viola (Jennifer Thiessen, who also performed with Amjad), cello (Jean-Christophe Lizotte) and saxophones (Ida Toninato - who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. I subsequently replaced the tenor with baritone sax, as this is Ida's preferred instrument).

Sequence of work for edition

 (renumbered - original numbers in brackets))

(Purcell: Dido)

I Overture

II Banish Sorrow

III Ah, Belinda

IV Cupid only

V To the hills

VI The Triumphing dance

VII Prelude for the witches

VIII In our deep vaulted cell

IX Thanks to the lonesome vales

X Oft she visits - not used in dance

XI Haste haste

XII Dido's lament

XIII With drooping wings

XIV After the Witches' Prelude

 

(Gluck: Orfeo))

XV (XIV) Che Piangendo - not used in dance

XVI (XIVA) Pantomime

XVII (XIVB) Ah, si intorno

XVIII (XVIC) Chiamo il mio ben cosi - not used in dance

XIX (XV) Dance of the Furies

XX (XVI) Ah quale incognito

XXI (XVIA) Men Tiranne

XXII (XVII) Dance A

XXIII (XVIII) Dance B

XXIV (XIX) Air

XXV (XX) Dance of the Heros - not used in dance

XXVI (XXI) Vieni a regni

XXVII Che faro senza Euridice

XXVIII (XXII) Sposa

XXIX (XXIII) Si Aspetta

XXX (XXIV) Trio

 

Dance Sequence (with current score numberings)

 

(Purcell: Dido)

I Overture

II Banish Sorrow

III Ah, Belinda

V To the hills

VII Prelude for the witches

VIII In our deep vaulted cell

XI Haste haste

VI The Triumphing dance

IX Thanks to the lonesome vales

IV Cupid only

XVIII Dance B (from Orfeo, not Dido))

XIII With drooping wings

XII Dido's lament

 

After the Witches' Prelude (film)

 

(Gluck: Orfeo)

XIX Air

XIVA Pantomime

XIVB Ah, si intorno

XV Dance of the Furies

XVI Ah quale incognito

XVII Dance A

XXI Vieni a regni

XXII Sposa

XVIA Men Tiranne

XXIV Trio

 

 

 



A set of pieces for 4 players: saxophone (various), viola, cello, piano based on music by Purcell and Gluck. 

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Note : Dido and Orfeo

Dido and Orfeo

The music for Dido and Orfeo involves a reworking of music from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, just as my previous collaboration with Edouard Lock, Amjad, took the Romantic ballet - Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty as its source.

The music is for a small ensemble, four players, playing saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor/baritone), viola, cello and piano. The original performance and subsequent touring performances, were directed by pianist Njo Kong Kie, who also directed Amjad. The other performers were viola (Jennifer Thiessen, who also performed with Amjad), cello (Jean-Christophe Lizotte) and saxophones (Ida Toninato - who plays soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. I subsequently replaced the tenor with baritone sax, as this is Ida's preferred instrument).

This is the third of my collaborations with Edouard, all of which have involved references to earlier music, and we plan more for the future.

Sequence of works

(Purcell: Dido)

I Overture

II Banish Sorrow

III Ah, Belinda

IV Cupid only

V To the hills

VI The Triumphing dance

VII Prelude for the witches

VIII In our deep vaulted cell

IX Thanks to the lonesome vales

X Oft she visits - not used in dance

XI Haste haste

XII Dido's lament

XIII With drooping wings

XIV After the Witches' Prelude

(Gluck: Orfeo))

XV (XIV) Che Piangendo - not used in dance

XVI (XIVA) Pantomime

XVII (XIVB) Ah, si intorno

XVIII (XVIC) Chiamo il mio ben cosi - not used in dance

XIX (XV) Dance of the Furies

XX (XVI) Ah quale incognito

XXI (XVIA) Men Tiranne

XXII (XVII) Dance A

XXIII (XVIII) Dance B

XXIV (XIX) Air

XXV (XX) Dance of the Heros - not used in dance

XXVI (XXI) Vieni a regni

XXVII Che faro senza Euridice (not used in dance)

XXVIII (XXII) Sposa

XXIX (XXIII) Si Aspetta

XXX (XXIV) Trio

 

Dance Sequence

In the dance performance the sequence was sllghtly different, and some numbers were not used

(Purcell: Dido)

I Overture

II Banish Sorrow

III Ah, Belinda

V To the hills

VII Prelude for the witches

VIII In our deep vaulted cell

XI Haste haste

VI The Triumphing dance

IX Thanks to the lonesome vales

IV Cupid only

XVIII Dance B (from Orfeo, not Dido))

XIII With drooping wings

XII Dido's lament

 

After the Witches' Prelude (film)

 

(Gluck: Orfeo)

XIX Air

XIVA Pantomime

XIVB Ah, si intorno

XV Dance of the Furies

XVI Ah quale incognito

XVII Dance A

XXI Vieni a regni

XXII Sposa

XVIA Men Tiranne

XXIV Trio

 

 

 

 



Duration: 27’
Dedicated to Alexander Balanescu
Instrumentation: 2 violins ( with optional Korg M1 keyboard)
First performance: Sala del Arenal, Seville, April 19th 1992

Note : Die Letzten Tage (1992)

Die Letzten Tage (1992)

This set of violin duos was written for Alex Balanescu and Claire Connors to play at the opening of an exhibition in Seville in 1992 called The Last Days.The title of the exhibition came from the sardonic writings of the Austrian Karl Kraus, especially his satirical play The Last Days of Humanity (1922). The idea of the exhibition was to produce work for the end of the century, but quietly, in an anti-millennium spirit. The piece falls into 5 separate sections: "The Roman Ending", "The Venetian Beginning", First Intermezzo, Second Intermezzo and "The Corinthian Middle". I wrote this last section first, in 1990, for a performance by Alex with Liz Perry at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, though always with the intention of adding other parts.  Some of the sections have operatic connotations. "The Corinthian Middle" paraphrases material from my opera Medea, from the section where Medea seeks to find a solution to her conflict with Jason. "The Roman Ending" alludes to Rossini's perverse ending to his Otello for a performance in Rome, where Desdemona and Othello kiss and make up, and then sing a final love-duet (with equivalent perversity this is the first of the set of pieces). Both operas have connections with Venice: Medea having been commissioned by La Fenice but never performed there, Otello being set in Venice hence "The Venetian Beginning".

Although the pieces are technically difficult - multiple stopping, high register solos, accurate artificial harmonics - the music has a surface which suggests otherwise.



Opera, libretto by Blake Morrison (after the novella by Jules Verne)
Duration: c. 2 hours 10'
12 soloists (2 sopranos, 2 mezzos, 2 counter tenors, 2 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 bass baritones)
Chorus (SATB)
Orchestra:
2 (2), 2 (oboe d'amore, cor anglais),1 + bass-cl, 1 + contra;
4. flugelhorn.2 + bass.0
harp
electric keyboard,
percussion (3 players)
strings: minimum 6.6.5.4.3 (1 amplified)

Note : Doctor Ox's Experiment (Epilogue) (1988)

Doctor Ox's Experiment (Epilogue) (1988)

After the final performances of my opera Medea in December 1984 I was interested in the possibility of writing further operas. One was based on Jules Verne's novella Doctor Ox's Experiment ("Une Fantaisie du Docteur Ox") and I wrote two concert works as pilots for this project. The first work was By the Vaar, an adagio for jazz bass, strings, bass clarinet and percussion written for Charlie Haden and performed by him at the 1987 Camden Jazz Festival. The other was an extended concert aria for high soprano and ensemble for an Arts Council Contemporary Music Network tour in the autumn of 1988. The full opera has been commissioned by English National Opera for performance in 1996.

The action takes place in the Flemish town of Quiquendone, a town that appears on no map, although its geographical location is precisely fixed. It is a town where everything happens very slowly; where an engagement of 10 years is the norm; where the council never reaches a decision; that is, until Doctor Ox and his assistant arrive to install gas lighting, which has a devastating side effect. At the end of the opera, Doctor Ox disappears as mysteriously as he has come, leaving the town to revert to its former existence. At the end, one innocent victim of the doctor, Suzel, recalls at a later date the events that have taken place, and realises that things can never be the same again.  The coda from By the Vaar, where the bass is, effectively, Frantz, Suzel's betrothed, appears transformed in this last scene after Suzel has faced the future nervously. The text is by Blake Morrison, librettist for the opera proper, and the vocal part was specially written for the remarkable soprano Sarah Leonard, for whom I have since written a number of other pieces (The Black River, for voice and organ, and The War in Heaven, for soprano, counter tenor - David James - chorus and orchestra).

This piece is dedicated to Ruby, a typhoon which confined me to my hotel room in Hong Kong, and without whose timely intervention the piece would not have been ready in time for the first performance.

Note : Text of Doctor Ox's Experiment (Epilogue) 1988

Text of Doctor Ox's Experiment (Epilogue) 1988

Dear Frantz, how good to sit with you again beside the banks of the idling Vaar - you with your fishing rod, me with my embroidery, the two of us with needles plying the evening's gentle light. We have found our pulse again - the throb of Quiquendone, a town where nothing changed in seven centuries till the doctor came along. Now Ox has gone and we can live once more like sponges do, or coral: not walking but gliding, not talking but murmuring, calm in the temples of our homes. We are deep and measured as those church bells tolling now for evensong - the bells that will one day ring for us, my love, for Frantz and his Suzel.

How nearly we lost each other - and ourselves. What was it made that happen? What trick did Doctor Ox play with his oxygen? He said he'd light the town up, that each flame would burn like fifteen hundred candles and we need never live in darkness again. But when the streets were dug with gas pipes it wasn't lights that burned - but us. That first night at the theatre when his gas came on, I could feel my cheeks flush, I saw your eyes glow like a tiger's, it was as if we were performers, not the audience, an opera of longing with the heroes and heroines ourselves. Next day it seemed a dream but with these signs to show that it had happened - lost shoes, torn collars, a dent in the middle of a hat.

I blush to think of all that followed. The squabbles, the quarrels. The dancing, the drinking. The revels, the rebellions. The whole town an asylum. The people mad to fight and make love to one another. The dogs turned rabid, the sheep angry as bullocks, the horses snapping at their bits. Fruit rioting in our gardens - melons like belfries, twelve-foot cabbages, strawberries so big you could serve four people from each one. And you Frantz - the way your hair grew and your moustache turned up fiercely at the ends. You were pledged to fight a duel with the banker's son, a duel for my hand after all our years together, and I loved it and egged you both on. We were like nomads, tearing up our roots, losing our tempers and our hymens, wearing out our bodies and our souls.

God knows what would have come of us - our troops were at the gate massing for war against our neighbours when - whoomph - the gasworks blew its crown off, and all of us were thrown to the ground. We lay there in the streets, stunned as these carp are in the river, then slowly rose to upright and shook out the brick-dust from our eyes. Back in the deserts of our drawing rooms, we have found the old pulse again, lazy as the Vaar I with its fishbeds, hurrying no decisions, reaching no conclusions, in a daze of traditions and rites. It's good to be ourselves again, good that Doctor Ox has gone, good that we can go back to our maplessness. Yet I feel that I shall never be the same again, that a new age was born which hasn't been extinguished with the gasworks and I want to be sure, yes our marriage hangs on it, that you, Frantz, have that feeling too.



Text: Kukol’nik
Duration 27’
Dedication: Duncan McTier
Instrumentation:
solo double bass
2 flutes, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, contrabassoon, 2 horns
timpani, percussion (2 players), harp
male chorus (3 part divisi bass voices)
strings (0.0.6.6.4)
First performance: Tramway, Glasgow, September 21st 2002

Note : Double Bass Concerto ("Farewell to St. Petersburg")

Double Bass Concerto ("Farewell to St. Petersburg")

This is the second work that I have written for double bass and orchestra. Each one relates in some way to my own experience as a bass player.

The first, By the Vaar, was written for the jazz bassist Charlie Haden. It includes a lengthy section of improvisation, and features the jazz pizzicato sound (very different from an orchestral pizzicato) drawing on my past as an improvising bassist and drawing on personal preferences and ideals.

The second is for classical bass and here there are a number of musical allusions and references to particular instruments. My own double bass, an instrument I had for over thirty years, was a beautiful old English bass from the early 19th century by Bernard Simon Fendt and had belonged to Sam Sterling, arranger of the Bach Solo Cello Suites for double bass - he used it principally for chamber music. This bass had a very similar sound to Duncan McTier's Lott from the same period. I now have a new bass made specially for me by Michael Hart and modelled, to some extent, on my old Fendt.

But I also have in mind other basses. One relates to the double bass that Koussevitsky had owned, and which was given to Gary Karr by Koussevitsky's widow. Gary has since donated this instrument to the International Society of Bassists.  It is a beautiful 17th century Amati, arguably one of the finest bassists in existence. When I needed to borrow a bass for a concert in Victoria BC in 1999 Gary was kind enough to give me free choice from his 15 instruments - and although the Amati was not  on offer I was fortunate enough to play it.  I think of this as the "Russian Bass". And this leads to a number of Russian connections.

The term "Russian Bass  also refers to a vocal quality, and one with which I became preoccupied when writing my opera G, which has several solo parts for the bass voice - one of which was actually sung by a Russian in the performances in Mainz, and some of the other basses who sang in the opera have Boris Godounov in their repertoire.

I relish too the choral bass voice in works such as Rachmaninov's Liturgies of St John of Chrystostom, where he has parts for low basses ("octavists") going down to G below the bass clef (and the double bass can manage only three semitones lower than this in its normal tuning).  This brings about an unusual area of orchestration in this concerto: the inclusion of a small chorus of bass voices (though the work can be performed without this chorus where necessary).

The text that I use for the bass voices is from the last song in Glinka's song cycle "Farewell to St. Petersburg", and this song, the twelfth, has the same title as that of the cycle.  However any possible sense of melancholy in the song is dispelled by the joyous chorus, as Glinka is happy to be leaving all his marital and financial problems behind. However, I omit the cheerful refrain and use only part of Kukol'nik's text - part of the first verse, the whole of the second, and part of the chorus which follows the fourth verse.  As it happens, in the original version of these songs, a male chorus joined the solo voice for each of the four major key choruses (following the minor key verses).

The orchestration is quite light throughout, so that the singing quality of the double bass can emerge. The emphasis in terms of tessitura is on the bass's upper middle register, though in the closing section there is a passage in natural harmonics. Although the piece is not designed to be a virtuoso showpiece, there is a brief cadenza in which the soloist is supported at times by other solo instruments (bass clarinet, viola, cello, bass).

The piece was commissioned by the BBC for Duncan McTier and is dedicated to him.

Gavin Bryars 

 

 

Note : Text of Double Bass Concerto ("Farewell to St. Petersburg")

Text of Double Bass Concerto ("Farewell to St. Petersburg")

 

Прощайте, добрые друеья!

Нас жизнь раскинет врассыпную;

 

Нигде нет вечно светлых дней,

Везде тоска, везде истома,

 

Листки истёртого альбома.

 

Разгул с отравленным вином

Любовь споддельными цветами,

Весельес золотым ярмом

И лесть с змеиными речами . . .

Прощайте, глупые мечты,

Сны без значения, прощайте!

Другрю жертву суеты

Игрой коварной обольщайте.

 

Ты прав,

Но струн не рвн

Жизнь наша дружбою согрета.

 

Аминь.

 

Farewell my dear friends!
Life will disperse us;
It's true, but wherever I may find myself
I will think of you and miss you.
Nowhere are days forever cloudless,
Everywhere is longing and tiredness,
And, for my memory, life
is only the pages of a worn-out album.

A party with poisoned wine
A love with fake flowers
A joy with golden harnesses
a flattery with serpent's talk....
Farewell, silly reveries,
Dreams without meaning, farewell!
Take another victim of vanity
To seduce with your cunning game.
from Proshchal'naya pesnya (Farewell Song) (Nikolai Kukol'nik)

Prostchayte, dobryye druzya!
Nas zhizn raskinet vrassypnuyu;
Vsyo tak, no gde by ni byl ya,
A vspomnyu vas I zatoskuyu.
Nigde net vechno svetlykh dney,
Vezde toska, vesde istoma,
I zhizn dlya pamyati moyey
Listki istyortovo al'boma

Razgul s otravlennym vinom
Lyubov' s poddelnymy tzvetami
Veselye s zolotym yarmon
I lest' s zmeinymy rechyami...
Prostchayte, glupye metchy,
Sny bez znachenia, prostchayte!
Druguyu jertvu suety
Igroy kovarnoy obolschchayte

Ty prav,
No strun ne rvi.
Zhizn nasha druzhboyu sogreta.

(Amen)

You are right,
But do not tear the strings
Our life is warmed by friendship.

(Amen)

(trans. Anna Tchernakova)



Text: Blake Morrison, based on Jules Verne.
Duration: 22’
Instrumentation: Solo soprano voice, solo piano (originally 2 pianos), string quartet, bass, bass clarinet, electric guitar, 2 percussion (originally including electric keyboard).
First performance: St George's Brandon Hill, Bristol, 11 November 1988.



Duration: c. 37’
Dedication: Valdine Anderson and David James
Instrumentation: soprano, counter tenor, electric guitar, bass clarinet, piano (doubling electric keyboard), 2 violas, cello, bass, percussion (vibraphone, glockenspiel, bells, bass drum, tam-tam, sizzle cymbal)
First Performance: La Botanique, Brussels, October 16th 1998

Note : Duets from Doctor Ox's Experiment

Duets from Doctor Ox's Experiment

In my opera Doctor Ox's Experiment pair of young lovers are sung by a soprano and a counter tenor. They are doubled by another pair of lovers. with the same vocal pairing, who become their rivals in the second act. For this concert work, written for my ensemble, I took the points in the opera where duets between these voices take place, no matter which of the characters was singing, and adding last scene in which Suzel  sings solo, though with the distance voice of another male singer, the baritone Ygène, singing off stage. There are four parts to this concert piece.

Part One opens with a short instrumental opening using material from the very beginning of the opera, and dovetailed into the opening of what was scene 5. This has all the lovers' material from scene 5 - including the duet material sung by the other pair of lovers. In what were previously quartet sections, the two voices sing their own existing parts, the other two parts being taken by instruments. The part of Frantz has a couple of note changes to get rid of the more obvious unisons but Suzel's part is unchanged.

Part Two is the love duet which comprises the whole of Act One Scene 8 and is exactly as it appears in the opera. For the performances by my ensemble I played the jazz bass part.

Part Three has an instrumental section at the beginning to reflect the change for the beginning of the second act and is shorter and faster. This is the duet originally sung by Frantz's rival Fritz and Suzel.

Part Four is the Epilogue from the end of the opera. The soprano part is exactly as it was in the opera. The counter tenor sings Ygène's plaintive off-stage "Ox? Ox?", which is, in any case, quite high in the baritone voice and was sung as a 'head tone' by the baritone. This final section starts with the instrumental opening as it was in the original concert work Doctor Ox's Experiment (Epilogue) which I wrote in 1988 as a first draft for the opera (this instrumental music overlaps the end of Aunt Hermance's final aria in the opera itself).