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

Duration: c. 12’
Dedication: Ensemble Tozai
Instrumentation: shakuhachi, violin, piano, Japanese untuned percussion
First performance: Ensemble Tozai, The Royal Pavilion, Brighton May 17th 2001

Note : Fax to Chris Hinkins (cc. Rachel Oakley/ Rosie Lindsell)

Fax to Chris Hinkins (cc. Rachel Oakley/ Rosie Lindsell)

April 19th 2001

Dear Chris

re. Toru's Mist

I need to add a couple of lines to the instructions for instrumentalists and I guess it would be best to put it on the page with the percussion instructions rather than on the prelims page (which Rachel will do).

If the text for the percussion part is tightened up on to three lines and the layout diagram is done slightly smaller maybe it could all fit? I realise however that the percussion layout would also need to be in the part as well as the score.

shakuhachi: although the part is written in a quite simple way, there are some indications of ornamentation and vibrato in the part, and the player is encouraged to extend this freely within the context of the overall musical texture.

piano: notes in the bass written as harmonics - diamond-shaped note heads - are to be depressed silently and held down, initially by the hand, though weights or matchsticks may be more effective. 

Is this OK? I know you're away until Monday of course.

All the best

Gavin

Note : Toru's Mist (2001)

Toru's Mist (2001)

for shakuhachi, violin, piano and Japanese percussion

This piece was written for the Ensemble Tozai for a series of performances starting in May 2001. The combination of performers - two playing western instruments, two playing Japanese - gives a unique flavour to the instrumentation, and is the source of many of the musical ideas within the piece. It represents a kind of memorial to Toru Takemitsu, whom I met for the first time in Tokyo in the mid-1980's, and whose ability to reconcile (so-called) Eastern and Western sensibilities produced a subtle and moving synthesis. For my part, I have had a long and sustained interest in Japanese culture: I was active in judo as a teenager (taking a greater interest in the aesthetic formal structures than fighting); I attended classes of the late Christmas Humphries at the Buddhist Society in London and, following my time as a philosophy student, find Zen Buddhism to be the most coherent form of religion; I studied Japanese written language (as a hobby) for three years in the early 70's; and the performances of Gagaku which I saw at the Albert Hall in 1969 struck me forcibly as being as close to ensemble perfection as it is possible to be.

In bringing these four instruments together as an ensemble, I sought to form some kind of hybrid - rather than fusion - from the individual elements. The "western" piano and "eastern" percussion form a single sound world at times concentrating a great deal on resonance, while the shakuhachi and violin adapt to western norms, for example in a series of quasi-baroque suspensions. The percussion instruments, almost entirely untuned, or rather with unspecified pitch, are those which form part of Joji Hirota's multi-percussion set-up.

The piano is also used in such a way as to generate selected overtones which accord with the tuning of the shakuhachi. Given that the shakuhachi is essentially a pentatonic instrument, from a given pitch (here D) I concentrate on those 'open' notes which form the essence of its normal tone production, although the context is far from modal. The chromatic world in which it finds itself in this piece is often at odds with the instrument's modal character but constantly seeks to find an accommodation. The instrument can, of course, be completely chromatic but I use this element sparingly, either by implication or through inflection.

The title refers both to the sense of atmosphere and veiled recollection in Takemitsu's music, but also to the climactic conditions in the Western Isles which produce the single malts that he and I enjoyed together.

Gavin Bryars

 



Duration: c.15’
Instrumentation:  Cello, tuba, reed organ, tapes/slides.
First performance: ICC, Antwerp, 15 May l976



Ded. Audrey Riley
Solo cello
First performance Spain



Text: St Brendan, Tróndur
Solo soprano, solo bass, choir (SATB), chamber orchestra
Duration c. 30'
First performance, Gøtu, Faroe Islands, July 12 2008
Eivør Palsdottir, Rúni Brattaberg, choir, Aldúbaran, conductor Gavin Bryars



Text anonymous Gaelic 16th century
Setting of old unaccompanied melody for tenor and ensemble (Part of Anail De project)
First performance: Iarla O'Lionaird, voice, Leo Abrahams, guitar, Gavin Bryars, bass, members of the Crash Ensemble
Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin November 2008



Choir and organ
First performance: Billesdon Church Choir; Choirmaster Stephen Baden-Fuller; organist Roger Marvin.
December 23 2007 St John the Baptist Church, Billesdon

Note : The Golden Carol of the Three Kings Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar

The Golden Carol of the Three Kings Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar

We saw the light shine out afar,
On Christmas in the morning,
And straight we knew Christ's Star it was,
Bright beaming in the morning,

Then did we fall on bended knee,
On Christmas in the morning,
And praised the Lord, who'd let us see
His glory at its dawning.

Oh! Every thought be of His name,
On Christmas in the morning,
Who bore for us the grief and shame,
Affliction's sharpest scorning.

And may we die, when death shall come,
On Christmas in the morning,
And see in Heav'n, our glorious home,
The Star of Christmas morning.


---Old English Carol

Note : New Prince, New Pomp

New Prince, New Pomp

Behold, a seely tender babe

In freezing winter night

In homely manger trembling lies--

Alas, a piteous sight!

The inns are full, no man will yield

This little pilgrim bed,

But forced he is with seely beasts

In crib to shroud his head.

Despise him not for lying there;

First, what he is enquire.

An orient pearl is often found

In depth of dirty mire.

Weigh not his crib, his wooden dish,

Nor beasts that by him feed;

Weigh not his mother's poor attire

Nor Joseph's simple weed.

This stable is a prince's court,

This crib his chair of state,

The beasts are parcel of his pomp,

The wooden dish his plate.

The persons in that poor attire

His royal liveries wear;

The prince himself is come from heaven--

This pomp is prizëd there.

With joy approach, O Christian wight;

Do homage to thy king;

And highly prize his humble pomp

Which he from heaven doth bring.

Robert Southwell
( 1561-1595)



Tenor and bass recorders
Duration 5’
First performance Peter Bowman and Kathryn Bennetts
May 2007



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.

 

 



Duration: c.30’
Instrumentation: bass clarinet, piano, 2 violas, cello, bass, percussion (one player: bells, vibraphone, tam-tam, bass drum)
First Performance: Alix Goolden Hall, Victoria Conservatory, Victoria BC, Canada June 19th 1999

Note : Unless The Eye Catch Fire (1999) (World premiere)

Unless The Eye Catch Fire (1999) (World premiere)

For 2 violas, cello, bass, piano, bass clarinet, percussion

I was very struck by the material sent to me last summer by film director Anna Tchernakova relating to her film based on the short story by P.K.Page. I read the story, I saw some early footage, I became acquainted with other work by P.K. and by Anna and I was very happy to make what is my first serious foray into writing music for a film. Music is central to the film, indeed the film itself will open and close with images from this concert performance. We agreed that the music should have an autonomous existence as chamber music and should not be merely a sequence of musical cues. It does, of course, endeavour to be at one with the poignancy of the text and the eloquence of its filmed realisation and ultimately forms part of an overall sound design.

The music is in 6 parts each having a relationship - sometimes clear sometimes oblique - to a simple chorale which appears in different guises. The first part is a short and simple statement of this chorale. Some sections begin with a statement of this material but then lead to different developments from it. In two sections (sections 2 and 4) the theme is not stated but rather covered by its development. The last variation, which features the unison double bass and bass clarinet, ends with a brief coda, reminiscent of a pipe lament. The instrumentation is close to that of my own ensemble which tends to feature the darker, richer sonorities of the lower strings, supported by the bass clarinet, allied to the brighter sounds of keyboard and tuned percussion. This instrumental balance and contrast - between darkness and light, richness and austerity - is intended to be at one with both text and film.

The six parts of Unless The Eye Catch Fire are as follows:

I Chorale

II Variation 1 - covered

III Variation 2 - major/minor

IV intermezzo

V Variation 3 - waltz

VI Variation 4 - minor/major

 

 



Duration: 18’
Instrumentation: solo French horn, percussion ( 6 players),   (+ optional string trio)
First performance: Théâtre de la Ville, Paris 20 November 1986 (reduced instrumentation); Union Chapel, Almeida Festival, June 13 1987(full version)

Note : Viennese Dance No. 1 (1985)

Viennese Dance No. 1 (1985)

for French horn and percussion (6 players)

Viennese Dance No.1 was written in 1985 for Pascal Pongy, at that time principal horn with the orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon. It was written to be included in my first recording for ECM Records and the first performance took place in the recording studio in Ludwigsberg, Germany.

I had worked closely with Pascal during the period of rehearsal and performance of my first opera Medea in 1984 and we became good friends. The music originated in an aria I drafted for Mata Hari, who appears as one of a number of historical and fictional characters in Robert Wilson's projected opera The Civil WarS which I worked on from 1981 until its abandonment in 1984. Some parts of the accompaniment, for a large ensemble involving six percussionists, was tried out during sketch rehearsals in the radio station in Baden Baden. Mata Hari was one of the three most celebrated dancers in the world who, unknown to each other, happened to be staying in Vienna on the same night in 1904  - hence the title. My first string quartet (subtitled "between the National and the Bristol") also recorded for the same album alludes to this coincidence too.

 



Duration: c. 18’
Dedication: Paul Manley and the Primavera Chamber Orchestra
Instrumentation: solo violin, strings (minimum 6.5.4.4.2)
First Performance: Paul Manley and the Primavera Chamber Orchestra, De la Warr Pavillion, Bexhill on Sea, October 22 2000

Note : Violin Concerto ("The Bulls of Bashan") [2000]

Violin Concerto ("The Bulls of Bashan") [2000]

for violin and strings

The Violin Concerto, scored for solo violin and strings alone, was commissioned by the Primavera Chamber Orchestra for its leader Paul Manley and is the second piece that I have written for them.  The first, The Porazzi Fragment, for 21 solo strings, came about because of my admiration for the approach that the orchestra takes to performance - playing without a conductor, in effect as chamber musicians.  In the case of the concerto I did not want to write a virtuoso show-piece, but rather to draw on the orchestra's alertness as an ensemble.  The solo part is essentially lyrical and there is no cadenza as such.  But I was also conscious of the fact that, as with a baroque concerto, the soloist may also direct the work - and does so here.

Given the name of the orchestra and the fact that this is a violin concerto, there are a number of allusions to Vivaldi's Four Seasons.  There is also an extensive use of mutes, including  staggered transitions from muted to unmuted and vice versa, like a cross-fade in recording.  This use of mutes brought about the subtitle, which comes from an aside by Cecil Forsythe in his book on orchestration in which he pours scorn on the noise which string players would make when attaching mutes to their instruments (he was writing in 1914). Here is the passage in full.

"Unhappily the mutes remain something of a problem on the mechanical side of concert-room organisation.  When they are required the noise and fuss is most distressing, and, as these moments always occur when a pp is approaching, the musical attention of the audience is completely distracted. About fifty or sixty players all rattle their bows down on their desks in order to be free to search their waistcoat pockets.  When the mutes have been dragged out they are fitted to the bridges with a studied and elaborate caution which may be necessary to preserve the bridges from injury, but which gives an impression that the players are taking part in a solemn cabalistic rite.  And all this occurs in 1914 when inventors are as thick as bulls in Bashan."

The concerto is dedicated to Paul Manley and the Primavera Chamber Orchestra.



Duration c. 7’
Dedication: in memory of Adelaide Hall
Instrumentation: solo soprano voice; alto sax I, alto sax II (clar.), tenor sax I (clar.), tenor sax II (clar.), baritone sax; 4 French horns; flugelhorn,3 trumpets; 3 trombones, bass trombone; piano, bass, drums
First Performance: London Sinfonietta Big Band, Duke Ellington Memorial Concert, Queen Elziabeth Hall London, May 1st 1999

Note : When Harry Met Addie (1999)

When Harry Met Addie (1999)

for off-stage mezzo soprano and big band

The title of this piece contains two specific references: one to the singer Adelaide Hall and the other to baritone saxophonist Harry Carney.

I worked with Adelaide Hall on one memorable occasion in the Leicester Haymarket Studio Theatre in the late 1980's playing bass, arranging the music and directing a medium sized band composed of my students, some jazz colleagues from Leicester and featuring pianist Mick Pyne. Adelaide and I became good friends and I would visit her at her home in London whenever I could. She had, of course, been Duke Ellington's singer from 1927 onwards and was, in all probability, the first jazz singer to use 'scat' vocalisation, most famously in Creole Love Call. The legend is that Ellington was playing the piece through when Adelaide, in her dressing room, improvised a vocal line answering the theme played by a trio of clarinets. Whether this is true or not Ellington did incorporate this effect into the piece itself.

As my piece was commissioned for a concert curated by the baritone saxophonist/ bass clarinettist John Surman I thought to include also a reference to Harry Carney, Ellington's long serving (and long-suffering) baritone saxophonist whom I had seen perform with the Ellington band at Sheffield City Hall in the 1960's. There are brief quotations from Creole Love Call itself and the piece gradually becomes a (fully-notated) duet for the singer and the baritone which eventually merges into an improvised solo for alto saxophone. The voice and baritone are reunited in the closing bars.

When Harry Met Addie is dedicated to the memory of Adelaide Hall.

Gavin Bryars



Duration: 12’
Instrumentation: Percussion trio(cowbells, woodblocks, music box)
First performance: Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, 1 February 1976.



Duration: 18’
Instrumentation (original version): 2 pianos.
First performance: Centrum Bellevue, Amsterdam (Holland Festival) 10 June 1977.
Instrumentation(“tour” version): 2 pianos, 3 players at one marimba, tuba.
First performance: Chapelle de la Sorbonne, Paris (Festival d'Automne),16 November 1979.

Note : White's SS (1977)

White's SS (1977)

White's S S is the first piece that I wrote originally as a two piano work. It was written for John White and myself to play in a weekend of minimal music at the Holland Festival in June 1977, although, in the event, Christopher Hobbs and I played it. The title is taken from something John White once said: "Systems and Sentimentality are the S S of my Reich". I am sure that he was aware of the the two meanings of the word "reich", certainly I was when I wrote it for such a context where all the major figures of minimal music of the period, with the exception of Steve Reich, were there.  The piece consists of a series of slow arpeggiated chords accompanying a slow tune, in tremoloed octaves in both pianos. There are subsequent versions with additional instruments, notably with John White adding a tuba to the bass part.

 

Note : White's SS (1977) for Crepuscule re-issue

White's SS (1977) for Crepuscule re-issue

The performers were Gavin Bryars and Christopher Hobbs, piano; John White, tuba. I cannot be certain exactly when and where it was recorded - it could have been in Scraptoft, near Leicester, where I ran a music department from 1978 (if it was after 1978).

It was written for a series of concerts at the Holland Festival in  1977 when they had a weekend of 'minimal music' which included people such as Terry Riley, LaMonte Young, Philip Glass, Louis Andriessen,  Pandit Pran Nath plus Chris Hobbs and myself as a duo. Chris and John had sort of fallen out at that time and so it was a question of which

of the two would play. So this was just for two pianos. The festival was arranged so that everyone played in three places, and everyone was able to hear everyone else's concert if they wished. The first performance was in Amsterdam, followed by Rotterdam and Utrecht. Later, when Chris and John were reconciled, we performed it in Brussels in a concert organised by Belgian Radio, for which Wim Mertens was the producer (he wasn't really composing then), at the Theatre du Bourse. Michel Duval and I had met earlier and he was later to start Crepuscule, a bit on the model of Eno's Obscure Records (the names of the labels have a similar resonance).

I made an ensemble version with two pianos, tuba and tuned percussion for my first concert in France - at the Chapelle de la Sorbonne as part of the Festival d'Automne in 1979. I also recorded the trio version in 1979 for a projected label of my own ("Mnemonic", the same name as my subsequent self publishing) though I never managed to release anything. I still have masters of my pieces plus others my John White, Dave Smith and Ben Mason. I don't think that this is the one on the CD, though it could be. This was recorded at a studio in Islington run by an American who I'd met in La Jolla in 1973 called Joe Julian.

The piece came about during a long period when I worked closely with John White, who I consider one of the great unsung masters of composition in England. He wrote a lot of so called 'systems' music from the late 60's through tot he early 80's and once said "Systems and Sentimentality are the SS of my Reich" - hence the title (and I relished the double entendre of "Reich").

In 1980 I did an album for Crepuscule ("Hommages") and about that time Michel Duval asked about including something on a kind of sampler cassette and I suggested White's SS.

The use of the tremolo in the slow right hand melody relates to my passion at that time for the music of Percy Grainger, something which John and I shared. Grainger wrote a piece which was part of a projected series called "Sentimentals"- though he only wrote Sentimentals 1 ("Colonial Song).

Gavin Bryars



Duration c. 5’
Dedication: Margaret Mills and Mashka Tchernakova
Instrumentation: cello and piano (commissioned for ABRSM “Spectrum” series)
First performance: Margaret Mills, cello, Gavin Bryars, piano, Coplow Centre Billesdon, December 29th 2001

Note : With Miriam by the river (2001)

With Miriam by the river (2001)

for cello and piano

This short piece was commissioned by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) for inclusion in its "Spectrum 4" volume of contemporary pieces for cello and piano. As a consequence both cello and piano parts are relatively easy to play. The title, and the slightly nostalgic mood, refers to my mother, Miriam, whose house overlooked the River Ouse in Yorkshire, and to those occasions when I would accompany her towards the end of her daily practice time.

The dedication is to my step-daughter (Mashka Tchernakova) and a friend in Billesdon (Margaret Mills), who meet regularly to play together in a similiar spirit and who first met when performing in the Millennium Music project ("Creation Hymn" 1999).



Duration c.58'
Instrumentation: Electric Guitar, viola, cello, bass (with pedals)
First Performance: Laurie Booth Dance Company, Gardner Arts Centre, Brighton, May 6 1994