Skerry and Fjord (2010)

Trombone and piano
Duration: 12′
Gemini Publications (contact composer)
Commissioned by Newark Brass Festival
First performance 24 January 2010 | Michael Buchanan (trombone), Helen Reid

Programme note:

Skerry and Fjord was commissioned by the Newark Brass Festival for the 2009 overall prizewinner, trombonist Michael Buchanan. The first performance was given by Michael Buchanan and Helen Reid, piano, on 24 January, 2010 at Barnbygate Methodist Church, Newark upon Trent, Nottinghamshire.

There is something so majestic and yet so dark and perilous about the Nordic, ice-scoured coastline. At the mouth of the deep-cut, resounding fjords, pinnacles of rock (skerries) pierce upwards and give menace to the incautious navigator. The trombone seems the perfect instrument to draw out sonorous images of this powerful landscape. Listening to a recording of the Canadian alphorn specialist, Mike Cumberland, playing at the summit of a glacier and I was transfixed by the way in which the alphorn reverberated in that vast open space. The sound would slip behind the mountain, emerging transformed, many seconds later, from the other side of the valley.

In the opening and closing passages of Skerry and Fjord the major/minor third makes an interplay between trombone and piano, jangled and echoing.  Long lyrical lines rise and fall above the ringing accompaniment, which often gravitates towards the lowest region of the piano. Occasional, fast patterned upbeats break the length of the solo line. The central section, faster paced and more urgent in manner,  allows turbulence to surface before returning to the sustained, reverberating section which brings the work, which lasts for about 12 minutes, to a close.

Jeu à Treize (2000)

For 13 wind instruments
2ob 2cl 2 basset horns, or alto sax, 4 hns 2bsn 1db
Duration: 8′
Gemini Publications
Commissioned by London Mozart Players
First performance March 2000 | London Mozart Players | St Michael and All Angels, Chiswick, London

Programme note

Link to Score:

Link to recording:

Salon Argentina (2002)

Salon Argentina dark memories from an old tango hall ( rev. 2002)

Solo trumpet, brass nonet
4 trumpets, horn, 3 trombones, tenor tuba, tuba
Duration: 7′
Brass Wind Publications
First performance April 2002 | Paul Archibald (tpt), Welsh College of Music and Drama Brass Ensemble | Leicester
Exists in six different versions, including ‘Not Just a Place’ and ‘Tango Oscuro’
See also: Orchestral music, Chamber music

Programme note

Link to Score:
https://www.brasswindpublications.co.uk/cgi-bin/sh000007.pl

Link to recording:

Mein blaues Klavier (2006)

Soprano saxophone and piano
Duration: 10 minutes
Hofmeister
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.

Link to Score:
https://www.hofmeister-musikverlag.com/mein-blaues-klavier.html

Link to recording:

Le Temps Viendra (2009)

Oboe/cor, clarinet/bass and piano or for trumpet, trombone and piano
Duration: 7′
Friedrich Hofmeister Musikverlag
First performance: Sounds Positive | Vestry Hall, Ealing, London

See Chamber

In the autumn of November 1997 a rare illuminated manuscript came up for sale at one of the London auction houses. It was the Book of Hours which had once belonged to Henry VIII’s ill-fated second wife, Anne Boleyn. It was discovered that she had made a significant entry on the page of The Day of Judgement. In her neat handwriting were the ominous words, ‘le temps viendra’ (the time will come).

Programme note

Link to Score:
https://www.hofmeister-musikverlag.com/le-temps-viendra.html

Link to recording: