Piano
Duration: 16′
1: Shades of Solace | 2: Vespers in Venice | 3: Pavane | 4: Tapalteerie
Hunt Edition | Score cat no HE58

Recording: Vespers in Venice, Pavane, Tapalteerie on Piper’s Dream Deux Elles label DXL 1033

Programme note:

Shades of Solace
Shades of Solace was written in 1998 for a Festival of music featuring the American composer, William Bolcom, and first performed by Philip Mead. Ragtime was the theme of one of the Bolcom concerts. The initial impetus for Shades of Solace came from a powerful black and white photograph of the New York skyline taken in the 1940s. There is a mix of the bustle and dynamism of this city with hints of Scott Joplin’s piano rag, Solace, introducing a note of nostalgia and reflection.

Vespers in Venice
The idea of Vespers in Venice (1997) came from Turner’s visionary landscape Approach to Venice, in which there is a wonderful range of colours and shades. On the right of this painting is the pale gold of fading day and on the left, the beginnings of nightfall. The delicate outline of Venice, with St Mark’s Cathedral and the Campanile on the horizon, is just visible. The opening fanfare of Monteverdi’s Vespers (written for the resonant acoustic of St Mark’s) and the far-off bells of Venice are suggested in the blurred texture of the piano writing.

Pavane
The simple, thoughtful Pavane (1999) was written in memory of my godfather, Arthur Crow, a distinguished Fellow of Oriel College. The presence of the old French song Vive Henri Quatre which Tchaikovsky uses in the final moments of his ballet The Sleeping Beauty, affectionately acknowledges Arthur’s deep love of ballet and music, two important passions of his.

Tapsalteerie
Tapsalteerie pays tribute to James Scott Skinner, a remarkable Scottish fiddler who worked in the Aberdeenshire area around 1900. Known as the ‘King of Strathspey’, Skinner wrote over six hundred pieces, including some particularly virtuosic ones. Skinner’s Cradle Song is, however, simple and was written in response to watching a mother nurse her feverish child back to life. In Tapsalteerie Skinner’s Cradle Song threads through the slow, dream-like opening and appears later as feverish fiddle playing. Taken from the sick child’s perspective, Skinner’s poignant tune has been turned topsy-turvy or, as the Scots say, ‘tapsalteerie’. This work was commissioned by the Strathdee Music Club and first performed by Philip Fowke in 1999.