2010

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Strings (solo violin, 4 violas, 4 celli, 2 basses)
Duration c. 27'
For the ballet by David Dawson
First performance: National Ballet Flanders, Antwerp, January 12 2010
Conductor, Benjamin Pope

Note : The Third Light(2010)

The Third Light(2010)

Production Photo: Royal Ballet of Flanders

Choreographer: David Dawson

 




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.

http://www.classical-music.com/feature/meet-artists/ralph-van-raat

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)



for String Orchestra (6.6.4.4.2 preferred; 4.4.4.4.2 minimum).

Arrangement of Third String Quartet for orchestra, for the ballet Reverence by David Dawson

First performance Netherlands National Ballet, Amsterdam, April 7 2010

Conductor Ermanno Florio



for solo piano

dedicated to Ralph van Raat

duration c. 10'

first performance: recording for Naxos, March 2010

Note : Ramble on Cortina

Ramble on Cortina

The term "Ramble" comes from Percy Grainger who I have always admired both as composer and pianist. He uses it for the kind of piece that other composers might have called a "Paraphrase" - his most notable exercise in this genre being the remarkable Ramble on Love, based on themes from Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier. 

This "Ramble" is based on themes from my vocal laude, which derive from13th century manuscripts found in Cortona, Italy. Parts of this piece come from a short set of three variations on one of my laude (Lauda 13 " Stomme Allegro) that I wrote for students at the 2003 Victoria Piano Summer School in Canada. I revised this material and added more parts to the work - alluding to other laude - shortly after I had written my Piano Concerto (The Solway Canal) for Ralph van Raat. It is, effectively, my first piece for solo piano. It is dedicated to Ralph van Raat.

 

 



Two madrigals for three female voices (Juice Vocal Ensemble) setting sonnets by Petrach

 

Note : Texts

Texts

1. "Io amai sempre" (Petrarch: Rime Sparse 85)

Io amai sempre, et amo forte ancora,

et son per amar più di giorno in giorno

quel dolce loco ove piangendo torno

spesse fiate quando Amor m'accora;

 

et son fermo d'amare il tempo et l'ora

ch'ogni vil cura mi levar dintorno,

et più colei lo cui bel viso adorno

di ben far co' suoi esempli m'innamora.

 

Ma chi pensò veder mai tutti insieme

per assalirmi il core, or quindi or quinci,

questi dolce nemici ch' i' tant' amo?

 

Amor, con quanto sforzo oggi mi vinci!

et se non ch' al desio cresce la speme,

i' cadrei morto ove più viver bramo.

 

Translation by Robert M. Durling

I have always loved and still I love and I shall day by day love even more that sweet place where weeping I return many times when Love saddens me;

And I am fixed in loving the time and the hour that removed every low care from around me, and above all her whose lovely face makes me in love with doing well, thanks to her example.

But whoever thought to see them all together, to assail my heart now from this side, now from that, these sweet enemies that I so much love?

Love, with what power today you vanquish me! And, except that hope increases with desire, I would fall dead, where I most desire to live.

 

2. "Solo et pensoso" (Petrarch: Rime Sparse 35)

Solo et pensoso i più deserti campi

vo mesurando a passi tardi et lenti,

et gli occhi porto per fuggire intenti

ove vestigio uman la rena stampi.

 

Altro schermo non trovo che mi scampi

dal manifesto accorger de le genti,

perché negli atti d'allegrezza spenti

di fuor si legge com' io dentro avampi.

 

Si ch' io mi credo omai che monti et piagge

et fiumi et selve sappian di che tempre

sia la mia vita, ch' è celata altrui;

 

ma pur sì aspre vie né sì selvagge

cercar non so ch' Amor non venga sempre

ragionando con meco, et io con lui.

 

Translation by Robert M. Durling

Alone and filled with care, I go measuring the most deserted fields with steps delaying and slow, and I keep my eyes alert so as to flee from where any human footprint marks the sand.

No other shield do I find to protect me from people's open knowing, for in my bearing, in which all happiness is extinguished, anyone can read from without how I am aflame within.

So that I believe by now that mountains and shores and rivers and woods know the temper of my life, which is hidden from other persons;

but still I cannot seek paths so harsh or so savage that Love does not always come along discoursing with me and I with him.

 

 



A short madrigal for seven voices - three sopranos; countertenor; tenor; baritone; bass

Note : Solitude Note

Solitude Note

In 2010 the Akademie Schloss Solitude, near Stuttgart in Germany, celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a series of events and projects.

For the anniversary evening - July 17 - at the Theaterhaus, Stuttgart the festival organizers planned four concerts in four different rooms; each with a different ensemble constellation featuring short compositions by as many former composition fellows as possible. Each composer was asked to follow the rule that each composition should begin and end with the Tristan Chord (B-F, D#-G# or Eb-Ab), thus separating the individual compositions for the listener during the concert.

 The Tristan Chord functions as the connection between the individual contributions.

At the invitation of his good friend Jean-Baptiste Joly (director of the Akademie since its inception) Gavin Bryars wrote an unaccompanied vocal piece, the "Solitude Madrigal", for Neue Vocalsolisten Suttgart

Text

"Nova angeletta" (Petrarch: Rime Sparse 106)

 

Nova angeletta sovra l'ale accorta

scese dal cielo in su la fresca riva

là 'nd' io passava sol per mio destino.

 

Poi che senza compagna et senza scrota

mi vide, un laccio che di seta ordiva

tese fra l'erba ond' è verde il camino.

 

Allor fui preso, et non mi spiacque poi,

si dolce lume uscia degli occhi suoi.

 

A new little angel on agile wings came down from heaven to the fresh shore where I was walking alone by my destiny.

Since she saw me without companion and without guide, a silken snare which she was making she stretched in the grass wherewith the way is green.

Then I was captured, and it did not displease me later, so sweet a light came from her eyes!

(Translation by Robert M Durling)

 

 

 

 

 



A group of (currently) 7 songs for tenor, soprano, electric guitar, viola, cello, double bass. Text Blake Morrison. First performance Kings Place, London Octopber 2010)

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Note : Gavin's note

Gavin's note

The Morrison Songbook sets texts by my long time collaborator Blake Morrison. Blake had written a number of poems intended to be set as madrigal texts for my First Book of Madrigals. Thirteen poems were used for that collection using those that were written from the male point of view. For a concert in London (November 2010) I re-wrote seven of these madrigals for tenor (John Potter) and members of my ensemble (James Woodrow, electric guitar; Morgan Goff, viola; Nick Cooper, cello; and myself on double bass). There will eventuallty be more - at least 14. For a performance of these 7 in Orleans, France, I ghave some of the solos to Anna Maria Friman and the set will ultimately have solos for bothg male and female voices.