Century Dances (2005)

Oboe, clarinet and bassoon
Duration: 9′
Allemande, Menuet, Mazurka, Tango, Last Dance
Hunt Edition
Commissioned by The Thorne Trio
First performance 1 December | The Thorne Trio | St George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol

Five dances stretch a time-line from the 18th Century to the present day, each very different in character, ranging from an Allemande to the rocking The Last Dance.

Programme note:
Five dances stretch a time-line from the 18th Century to the present day, each very different in character. The Allemande, which was often an introductory movement to the Baroque dance suite, ushers in Century Dances with flourishes and trills, using the conventional form of the period. This is followed by Menuet, subtitled ‘ghost dance’, distant and fragmented. Mazurka, a Polish dance form much favoured by Chopin, expansive and stately, is succeeded by the dark intensity of the Tango. The Last Dance rocks the suite to an exuberant conclusion.

  • I Allemande
  • II Menuet – ghost dance
  • III Mazurka
  • IV Tango
  • V Last Dance

Century Dances received its first performance on 1 December, 2005, at St George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol, and was commissioned by The Thorne Trio with funds generously provided by the Gilbert and Eileen Edgar Junior Fellowship, the Lord and Lady Lurgan Fellowship and the Philharmonia Orchestra/Martin Music Trust Scholarship Fund Education and Outreach Award.

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Mein blaues Klavier (2006)

Soprano saxophone and piano
Duration: 10 minutes
Commissioned by Amy Dickson
First performance 6 March 2006 | Amy Dickson (soprano saxophone) Catherine Milldege (piano) | Wigmore Hall

Programme note:

This duo for soprano saxophone and piano, commissioned by Amy Dickson, finds its inspiration in the poem Mein blaues Klavier (My blue piano) written during the Second World War (1943) by the German Expressionist, Else Lasker-Schüler. Though the composition is essentially abstract the fractured, tilted world of the poem pervades the piece; it is as if the broken, disused piano, standing in shadow, is a metaphor for all that has been lost in wartime. The work opens with a bright-edged four note motif which then becomes fragmented; it takes many shapes before its final utterance, narrowing down to a single note at the end of the final section. The central section of Mein blaues Klavier is a lament in which the two instruments intertwine their melodies over a falling bass line.

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Rousseau’s Execution (2012)

2 violins, viola

This work for string trio is inspired by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Dictionnaire de Musique, with each of the three movements initiated by one of Rousseau’s musical entries. The first movement, Ouverture, with a tightly dotted rhythm as a feature, gives a sense of competitiveness between the players as the two violins vie against one another. In the second movement, Les Tierces (thirds), a gently combative exchange ensues, arguing for possession of the third with a major-minor disagreement. Peace is restored in the final movement, Chaconne, where melody and a steady tempo play an important role.

Programme note

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Time between Tides (2010)

Duration: 8′

  • for String Trio, Violin, viola, cello
  • 1. Edge | 2. Fall
  • Gemini Publications
  • Commissioned by the audience of Music in the Village, Walthamstow
  • First performance 15th April 2010 – Lendvai String Trio – The Ancient Church of St Mary’s Walthamstow, London

Time Between Tides was commissioned by the audience of Music in the Village, Walthamstow, with financial assistance from the RVW Trust, for the Lendvai String Trio. The first performance was given by the Lendvai String Trio in The Ancient Church of St Mary’s Walthamstow, London, on 15 April 2010. Time Between Tides received its second performance by the Lendvai String Trio on 18 May 2010 at Imperial College, London.

  • I Edge: ‘gleaming along its edge’
  • II Fall: ‘falling down into the story’

Time Between Tides was inspired by the vivid and shimmering imagery of Cliff Fall, in which the poet and broadcaster, Seán Street, gives the powerful illusion of a man falling, ‘a single figure framed in the cliff’s spun moment.’ When Seán Street made a radio programme at Samphire Hoe, Kent, he discovered that the cliff, below which the Hoe lies, was called ‘Shakepeare’s’ cliff, where the ‘dreadful trade’ of gathering Samphire occurs in King Lear. The narrative of Time Between Tides, in one almost continuous movement, falls into two contrasting sections, each defined by a phrase from Cliff Fall. The work opens with a poised stillness (Edge) in which the long lines of the three instruments entwine in their highest range, ‘gleaming along its edge’. The last section (Fall) emerges firstly as broken phrases, then unifies into something much more urgent. The phrase shapes give (I hope) a feeling of ‘falling’, as if inevitably being pulled down by gravity, ‘flailing through air bright for the love of Samphire.’

Cliff Fall (subtitled, Samphire Hoe, Kent. King Lear, Act IV, Scene VI) opens:

  • Gloucester’s imagined cliff,
  • Samphire, murmuring surge,
  • a dizzy horizon
  • gleaming along its edge,
  • sunlight dazzle blinding
  • a gaze on the far sea,
  • persuading memory
  • that it saw a man fall,
  • time between tides rushing
  • towards darkness . . .

Seán Street has generously given permission to quote from his poem, Cliff Fall.

Time Between Tides is dedicated to bassist, Peter McCarthy, who set up the Walthamstow concert series, Music in the Village, and to the Lendvai String Trio, Nadia Wijzenbeek, violin, Ylvali Zilliacus, viola and Marie Macleod, cello.

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Y Deryn Pur (2007)

Oboe, violin, viola and cello
Duration: 5′
Gemini Publications
Commissioned by Presteigne Festival of Music and the Arts
First performance 26 August, 2007 | Virginia Shaw (oboe), Sara Tricky (vln), Sarah-Jane Bradley (vla), Alice Neary (vcl) | St Andrew’s Church, Presteigne

Programme note

Review available

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