Duration: 12’
Instrumentation: French horn, violin, 3 percussion, bass.
First performance: Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, 20 November 1986.

Note : Piano Concerto (2010)


Piano Concerto (2010)

Ralph van Raat approached me about the possibility of my writing a concerto for him some time ago. I enjoyed talking with him and, above all, I liked very much his playing and his approach to music in general, and repertoire in particular. He is very much aware of the nature of my work and we did not feel it necessary to "consult" during the composition process but rather to speak in detail once the piece had been composed to discuss ideas and to make decisions. This continued right up to the performance.

Although the overall feeling of my piece does not convey any sense of urgency, and perhaps the overall tempo is slow, there is constant movement within the piece and Ralph was away of this tendency within my work when he approached me - and it is something that he relishes. Of course all pianists are capable of playing at fast tempi and with agility, but virtuosity also refers to musicality and I have always found it interesting to hear great players play (apparently) easy music (though this concerto is not "easy" in either sense).

The presence of a male chorus within the concerto represents a kind of homage to Busoni, a composer whom I have always admired and whose piano concerto has one in the last movement. As it happens I used a chorus of Russian bass voices in my recent double bass concerto so there is precedence within my own work too. Of course if there are voices then there are words and my choice of the poetry of the great Scottish poet Edwin Morgan alludes to my work with male choirs - I have set six of his "Sonnets from Scotland" already, three of them for the Estonian National Male Choir. The two sonnets The Solway Canal and A Place of Many Waters are heard in their entirety in the piece, and the first gives a subtitle to the concerto, just as Kukol'nik's "Farewell to St Petersburg" gives a subtitle to the double bass concerto.


Note : Text of The Solway Canal

Text of The Solway Canal

Slowly through the Cheviot Hills at dawn
we sailed. The high steel bridge at Carter Bar
passed over us in fog with not a car
in its broad lanes. Our hydrofoil slid on,
vibrating quietly through wet rock walls
and scarves of dim half-sparkling April mist;
a wizard with a falcon on his wrist
was stencilled on our bow. Rough waterfalls
flashed on that northern island of the Scotts
as the sun steadily came up and cast
red light along the uplands and the waves,
and gulls with open beaks tore out our thoughts
through the thick glass to where the Eildons massed,
or down to the Canal's drowned borderers' graves.

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)


Note : A Place of Many Waters

A Place of Many Waters

Infinitely variable water,
let seals bob in your silk or loll on Mull
where the lazy fringes rustle; let hull
and screw slew you round, blind heavy daughter
feeling for shores; keep kelpies in loch lairs,
eels gliding, malts mashing, salmon springing;
let the bullers roar to the terns winging
in from a North Sea's German Ocean airs
of pressing crashing Prussian evening blue;
give linns long fall; bubble divers bravely
down to mend the cable you love to rust;
and slant at night through lamplit cities, true
as change is true, on gap-site pools, gravely
splintering the puckering of the gust.

Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)

(Text after Pico della Mirandola and Francis Bacon)
Duration: 18’
Instrumentation (i): solo soprano voice and orchestra.
2+1, 2(1), 2+ bs.cl,1+1:
piano; timpani + percussion (2 or 3 players),
strings ( minimum; preferred).
Commissioned by the Royal Holloway College, Egham, for its centenary.
First performance: Royal Holloway College, 25 February 1986
Instrumentation (ii) (version with chamber orchestra)
Solo soprano voice,
1 (picc.). 2 (CA), 2 (contra.).;
Percussion (one player)
Strings (
First Performance: Haymarket Theatre, Leicester  11th February 1990

Text: P.K. Page
Duration c.10’
Instrumentation: contralto voice, bass clarinet, bassoon; 2 horns in F; percussion (bass drum, tam-tam, bells, glockenspiel. sizzle cymbal), timpani; piano; strings (min.
First performance: Centennial Hall, Winnipeg: Holly Cole, voice, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, conductor Bramwell Tovey

Note : Planet Earth (1998)

Planet Earth (1998)

Planet Earth was commissioned by the CBC for the Canadian jazz singer Holly Cole to perform at the 1999 Winnipeg New Music Festival. I had begun working with the Canadian poet PK Page and chose to set one of a series of poems, from a collection entitled Hologram, in which each poem uses the poetic form of the "glosa", an early Renaissance form first developed by poets of the Spanish court.

This technique involves writing a four verse poem, preceded by a four line poem by another poet which is quoted at the begining. Each 10 line verse ends (verse one, with line one, verse two with line two and so on) with one line from the quoted poem, the sixth and ninth lines rhyming with the borrowed line.

I followed the artifice of this device, but avoided quoting the original poem. However, I did write music which would eventually have words attached when the line duly arrived in the context of the poem itself.

The music is scored for contralto voice with small chamber orchestra: bass clarinet, bassoon; 2 horns; percussion (bass drum, tam-tam, bells, glockenspiel. sizzle cymbal), timpani; piano; strings (without violins).

Full length ballet, choreography by Carolyn Carlson, for orchestra with interludes by Philip Jeck (improvised electronics)

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Note : Pneuma


Pneuma is a full length ballet, around 80 minutes, which falls into 8 sections. Carolyn Carlson breaks the work into eight sections with each section taking its title from the work of Gaston Bachelard Airs and Dreams. It was commissioned  byt eh National Ballet of Bordeaux and was premiered there on March 17 2014


Duration: 12’
Instrumentation:  Piano, tuba, vibes, xylophone, bells.
First performance: Air Gallery, London, 1 November l977.

Duration: 10’
Instrumentation:(original version): cello, tuba, reed organ, tubular bells(3 players)
First performance: Lucy Milton Gallery, 15 May 1975.
Instrumentation (“tour” version): bells, marimba, timpani, violin, reed organ, piano, bass.
First performance: Midland Institute, Birmingham, 5 November 1981
Instrumentation: 2 Piano version.
First performance: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 26 January 198O.
Instrumentation (arr. Andrew Thomson, later Hugill): bells, marimba, tuba, string quartet, piano.
First performance, British Music Information Centre, 21 June l984

Text: Edwin Morgan
Duration c.5'
Male Choir

Note : Text of Post-Glacial

Text of Post-Glacial

The glaciers melt slowly in the sun.

The ice groans as it shrinks back to the pole.

Loud splits and cracks send shudders through the shoal

of herring struggling northwards, but they run

steadily on into the unknown roads

and the whole stream of life runs with them. Brown

islands hump up in the white of land, down

in the valleys a fresh drained greenness loads

fields like a world first seen, and when mild rains

drive back the blizzards, a new world it is

of grain that thrusts its frenzied spikes, and trees

whose roots race under the stamped-out remains

of nomad Grampian fires. Immensities

are mind, not ice, as the bright straths unfreeze.


Edwin Morgan (from Sonnets from Scotland)

Unspecified ensemble.
Duration: indeterminate
Published in EMC Rhythmic Anthology.
First performance: BBC 2 'Art and Technology' series, November 1970

Indeterminate(text notation)
Published in EMC Verbal Anthology.
First performance:  Reardon-Smith Hall, Cardiff, 1969