2011

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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

 

 

 

 



For electric guitar, viola, cello and double bass

Note : Gavin's note

Gavin's note

It Never Rains is a short piece written in the summer of 2010 that was commissioned by Jim Fox for the Californian label Cold Blue Music and is dedicated to them. The title comes from two sources: the Beach Boys song "It never rains in Southern California" and the English expression "It never rains but it pours" that is used whenever pressing matters arrive from all sides at the same time. It was written specifically for Jim to record, though the first live performance was by players in my own ensemble at a concert in Orléans, France in January 2011.

 

 



Ballet with choreography by Edouard Lock. Music, after Purcell and Gluck, for four players:saxophone (soprano, alto, tenor or baritone), viola, cello, piano

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Note : Gavin's notes

Gavin's notes

This new work (as yet untitled) with Edouard Lock involves a reworking of music from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice, just as our previous collaboration, Amjad, took the Romantic ballet - Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty as its source.  As with Amjad, Edouard selected many extracts from the two operas for me to recompose. Many of these were very short - sometimes only forty seconds or so - and had to be extended into longer compositions, unlike with Amjad where most pieces were about the same length as music in the original Tchaikovsky ballets. In addition, unlike with Tchaikovsky, a great deal of this music would be unfamiliar to the majority of ballet audiences and so I tended to stay closer to the originals. I wrote over 30 pieces and almost all of them appear in the ballet. The process of writing this music was immensely pleasurable since, as with Tchaikovsky, I learned a great deal more about the source music and its compositional ethos and craft. Some may be surprised at how much of the music for the ballet is actually very fast!!

 



For four voices (SATB) and four instruments (electric guitar, viola, cello, bass)

 

 

Note : Lauda 40

Lauda 40

Lauda 40 was written for my daughter Orlanda's vocal group Sonant Ensemble and my own ensemble. The premiere was at Will Alsop's space Testbed 1.  

Text

 

Lauda 40 "Madonna Santa Maria"

 

Madonna santa Maria,

mercè de noi peccatori;

faite prego al dolce Cristo

ke ne degia perdonata.

 

Madonna Santa Maria

che n'ài mostrata la via,

ore scacia ogne resia,

receve ki vol tornare.

 

Misericordia, patre Dio,

de tutto'l peccato meo:

e' so' quell malvasio reo

ke sempre volsi mal fare.

 

O tampinella e folle gente,

tornate a Dio onnipotente,

ke ne fece de niente

ed a lui dovem tornare.

 

Iesu Cristo, manda pace;

scàmpane da la fornace

la qual gemai altro non face

che i peccatori atormentare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary, holy Madonna,

have pity on us sinners;

make your prayer to sweet Christ

that he deigns to pardon us.

 

Mary, holy Madonna,

you who have shown us the way,

now drive out all earthly kingdoms,

and receive him who would return to you.

 

Have mercy, Father God,

on all my sin:

I am that wicked evildoer

who always wants to do wrong.

 

O mindlessly mimicking, foolish people,

turn to almighty God

who created you from nothing:

it is right for us to return to him.

 

Jesus Christ, send us peace;

save us from the furnace

which only exists

to torment sinners



Settings of four poems by Laura Battiferri, written for Singer Pur and commissioned by Villa I Tatti  

 

 

Note : Four Battiferri Madrigals

Four Battiferri Madrigals

These madrigals setting texts by Laura Battiferi come about from my third project with Villa I Tatti.  The first was a commission from the Morrill Music Library, in memory of Elizabeth and Gordon Morrill in 2004. For this I set a sestina by Petrarca that was performed by the Italian group, Vox Altera, along with a group of other madrigals for six voices that I had written earlier that also set Petrarca. Although new compositions, these works reflect the spirit and aesthetic of the 16th century Renaissance madrigal.

 

I had first became engaged with the idea of writing music in relation to models from early music when I wrote my first piece for the Hilliard Ensemble in 1988 but it was ten years later that I embarked on a series of books of madrigals. For the first of these books, thirteen madrigals for three, four and five male voices (the Hilliard Ensemble), I set commissioned poems by my friend (and librettist for my second and third operas) Blake Morrison. For these, unusually, I had new poems which were actually designed at the outset to be set to music as madrigals. Having written these, however, and following guidance from the tenor John Potter, for subsequent books I decided to set poets whose work had been used by Renaissance madrigalists and for my second, third and fourth books of madrigals I turned to Petrarch. And, indeed, having started on Petrarch I have stayed with him for a considerable period of time. While the second book, for six voices, sets fourteen sonnets from Petrarch's Rime Sparse, the fourth book, for eight voices, uses the longer sestina form, from the same collection - and the first of these settings "A qualunque animale" was the piece commissioned by Villa I Tatti.

 

The second project involved my setting 16th century texts, by Bronzino and Battiferri, as well as two by Petrarca. Although, like my second book,  these are for six voices, the formation of the group Singer Pur is very different, comprising soprano, three tenors, baritone and bass (as distinct from the 2 sopranos, mezzo, 2 tenors and baritone for the earlier madrigals). These were written in memory of  Craig Hugh Smyth, a fine art historian and former director of the Villa I Tatti, who was a specialist in Bronzino and Pontormo and the choice of texts reflects the interests of the dedicatee. Through correspondence with Kathryn Bosi, Music Librarian at I Tatti and, through her, Craig Smyth's family, I became increasingly aware of his unusual and quite special character.The Bronzino sonnet is a lament on the death of Pontormo, his teacher, and Laura Battiferri's poem is a direct response to that of Bronzino. As I was also asked to set sonnets by Petrarca, I chose two of his closely linked sonnets, numbers 229 and 230 in the Rime Sparse. Having written the Petrarca setting for I Tatti some five years before, I was familiar with the context. Petrach's sonnets attracted me for many reasons. Initially it was because they have such prominence in sixteenth century madrigal music. But it was also the heart-rending beauty of the poetry and its sheer technical brilliance.  Although I was vaguely aware of Bronzino as a painter, I did not know his poetry and I was grateful for the opportunity to look at previously unfamiliar texts, both of Bronzino and of Battiferri. Indeed having such things brought to my attention made me feel a surrogate part of the Villa I Tatti environment., I always felt during the time that I taught in a university that being alerted to previously unfamiliar work - and following up that prompting - to be one of the chief pleasures of being in an academic community.

 

The third project concentrates on the poetry of Laura Batiferri alone, and comes about because of the anniversary celebrations for her husband Ammannati. Kathryn Vosi sent me a number of texts and eventually I settled on four : three sonnets, one of which has 11 lines rather than the normal 14, and a sestina. From the poems that she sent there are two further ones that I plan to set so that, in due course, there would be quite substabntial volme of I Tatti madrigals that could form an entire book in themselves, combining Petrarca, Bronzino and Battiferri. These two "bonus" pieces will set a poem by Bronzino plus Battiferri's response, like those from the second concert. As with the commission two years ago, these madrigals are for Singer Pur, and there is the advantage this time of having worked with them directly at I Tatti, of spending time with them socially and having a greater awareness of the character of this quite special ensemble. The two 14-line sonnets, numbers 53 ("Fra queste piagge") and 54 ("Ergiti enfin"), have a link to the area near I Tatti, with their references to Maiano, and to the Mensola, and the shorter sonnet 55 ("Temprato aer sereno") also sings the praises of Tuscany.

With the sestina number 48 "Qual per l'onde turbate" we have the same kind of poetic virtuosity demanded of the 39-line form that I enjoyed with Petrarca's "A qualunque animale". This form has six 6-line verses with a final 3-line verse), with the same six words at the ends of the lines in each verse, but in each succeeding verse on a different line. For the final three lines all six rhyming words are brought back, three of them as half rhymes. As with my seting of the Petrarca sestina, I followed this device by devising precise musical equivalents. With Petrarca this involved having  different cadential phrases associated with each of the six words, and finding ways to join them that don't point to the apparent artifice. With the Battiferri setting, I followed the same structural idea, but becoming more flexible by injecting greater variation in these phrases as the poem progresses.

 

It was the promptings of I Tatti that started me off on my settings of Petrach's sestine, through Kathryn Bosi and others, and which pointed me towards the poetry of Bronzino and Battiferri. I enjoy the intellectual give-and-take, and being encouraged to follow these promptings. After my second project at I Tatti for example, Dr Janie Cole, whom I met at the concert, sent me her book on the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti il Giovane and it is very likely that I will set some of this poetry in the future. As a professional composer, I live from commissions and these can take me in many different and sometimes unpredictable directions and I welcome the stimulus of such exchanges. In an ideal world, when I would be free to write whatever I want, I would always chose to write vocal music, and having the pprotunity to set Petrarch and post-Petrarchian seicento poetry, is close to Paradise.

 

 

Gavin Bryars, Billesdon October 2011

 

 

 



Lauda for soprano, tenor, electric guitar, viola, cello, bass for festival in Normandy

Note : Lauda 41

Lauda 41

This was written for a festival in the very beautiful Abbaye du Bec Hellouin, Normandy. It was the first time that a soprano other tha Anna Friman sang the premiere of one of these pieces. She was unavailable and Peyee Chen replaced her. The venue was quite extraordinary with a wonderful resonance.

Lauda 41 "De la crudel morte de Cristo"

 

De la crudel morte de Cristo

on' hom pianga amaramente.

 

Quando Iuderi Cristo pilliâro,

d'ogne parte circundâro;

le sue mane strecto legâro

come ladro villanamente.

 

De la crudel morte de Cristo

on' hom pianga amaramente.

 

Trenta denar fo lo mercato

ke fece Juda, et fo pagato.

Mellio li fôra non esser nato

k'aver peccato sì duramente.

 

De la crudel morte de Cristo

on' hom pianga amaramente.

 

Molt'era trista sancta Maria,

quando 'l suo figlio en dea;

cum gran dolore forte piangeva

dicendo: "Trista, lassa, dolente."

 

De la crudel morte de Cristo

on' hom pianga amaramente.

 

A la colonna fo spoliato

per tutto 'l corpo flagellato,

l'ogne parte fo 'nsanguinato

commo falso amaramente.

 

De la crudel morte de Cristo

on' hom pianga amaramente.

 

Nel suo vulto li sputâro,

e la sua barba sì la pelâro;

facendo beffe, l'imputâro

ke Dio s'è falsamente.

 

De la crudel morte de Cristo

on' hom pianga amaramente.

 

Translation

For the cruel death of Christ

let every man weep bitterly.

When the Jews seized Christ

they surrounded him on every side;

they tied his hands tightly,

insulting him like a thief.

For the cruel death of Christ

let every man weep bitterly.

Thirty silver pieces was the price

which Judas demanded, and was paid.

It would have been better for him if he had never been born, than to have sinned so grievously.

For the cruel death of Christ

let every man weep bitterly.

Holy Mary was distraught

when she gave up her son;

she wept inconsolably with great sorrow

saying, "I am sad, miserable, sorrowful."

For the cruel death of Christ

let every man weep bitterly.

At the cross he was stripped bare,

whipped over all his body,

bled dry in every limb

bitterly as if he were a traitor.

For the cruel death of Christ

let every man weep bitterly.

They spat in his face,

and plucked out his beard;

they scoffed at him and accused him

of falsely claiming to be God.

For the cruel death of Christ

let every man weep bitterly.