....This page presents a jotting space for thoughts, news and little updates to be added from time to time. I do not intend it as a blog - there is plenty enough verbal fodder on the internet without me adding more...
This is the fourth time Gramophone have reviewed my Steps series. This time Richard Whitehouse covers Steps Volumes 1 and 5.
"Those who have been collecting this series need not hesitate"
The premiere of Steps Volume 5 at the Museo Napoleonico in Rome by Alessandro Viale was a great success! It was included in a news report on local television. One audience member likened the experience to the journey of Bach's St John Passion. Most flattering.
Two very nice reviews.
My Steps volumes have had many reviews but this is the first of the whole series in the German magazine Piano News.
"Only rarely have we had from a modern composer a world of piano music which is so cohesive to the ear, and pursued with such consistency. At all events, Seabourne's piano music is worth hearing and to be recommended!"
[Carsten Dürer - Editor in Chief - PIANO NEWS March 2017]
(click picture for readable size - complete review translated into English here)
Another very positive review of the CD VIOLA DOLOROSA containing my work Pieta by blogger-reviewer Robert Hughill.
"Pieta is remarkable for the concentrated intensity of the music over such a large scale"
The 4th Symphony is complete. Almost identical in length to the 3rd. Next comes a piano cycle, Steps Volume 6, for Konstantin Lifschitz to record along with the Bach Toccatas. My pieces will have a similar sectional, virtuosic feel.
A very nice review of my Violin Concerto by Bruce Reader on his site The Classical Reviewer. I am grateful to have such a warm advocate, and one who writes in detail and with understanding.
Finally the recording of Steps Volume 1 is complete. Minjeong Shin and I have worked so hard on this double disc project and the result is superb. It is available from me directly now and on general release in March (Discovery Records, Amazon, Music Web International etc.). (If you want to buy a copy immediately at £10 UK, €12.50 Europe or $18 USA incl postage please just email me or use the contact form here.)
A wonderful trip to Germany to work with Fenella Humphreys, Lavard Skou Larsen and the Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss Am Rhein. This was for the premiere of my Violin Concerto. This comprised the earlier This is a song for you alone and a newly commissioned partner piece called Give to Me Another Song. I have since accepted the inevtiable and called the combined work simply Violin Concerto. The reception was incredible!
My Symphony of Roses was broadcast again in Switzerland, and also in Estonia and Portugal.
"Ambitious, questing and pointedly European in outlook, the music of Peter Seabourne avoids easy answers."
A wonderful premiere of my Symphony of Roses in Switzerland by the Symphony Orchestra of Biel-Solothurn under my dear friend Kaspar Zehnder. Such enthusiastic reception from both orchestra and audience (called back four times - certainly a record!). It was broadcast on SRF2 Kultur in Switzerland.
You can watch the second movement, "The Rose of Peace" below. I am hopeful that the orchestra might allow me use of the full video before too long.
Gramophone Magazine asked for an article about my long silence - it can be read here
Outstanding performance of my Piano Concerto no.2 by Kristina Stepasjuková, with the Czech Philharmonic Academy Orchestra conducted by dear friend and champion Ondřej Vrabec. It took place in a packed hall at the Lichtenstein Palace in Prague.
I have waited many years to hear this work and was pleased (despite a little trepidation) to find it a powerful span of music. It is hoped that we can repeat the performance elsewhere before long. There will be a recording and video on this site soon.
"...all the works in the volumes are extremely varied and idiosyncratic, with much rhythmic and melodic interest, often very lyrical though not necessarily “tuneful”. Seabourne employs a colourful and piquant harmonic palette which recalls Debussy, Janacek and Messiaen, while the rhythmic vitality of the music is akin to Prokofiev; indeed the brevity and aphoristic nature of the pieces aligns them with Prokofiev’s ‘Visions Fugitives’ and ‘Sarcasms’. The works are challenging, and probably best tackled by the advanced pianist who enjoys such technical challenges as varied time signatures, polyrhythms, myriad articulation, filigree textures and one with the requisite artistic sensitivity and imagination to bring musical colour and invention to the music. It is always gratifying to find new music for the piano, and Steps is undoubtedly an important addition to the repertoire and definitely worth seeking out."
Working at home with Minjeong Shin on Steps Volume 1 which will be recorded in August.
I have been commissioned by Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss am Rhein to write a new single movement romanza for violin and string orchestra to be played as a pair with This is a song for you alone (or indeed separately). It will be a 6-9 minute work with a première in November 2016. The soloist is Fenella Humphreys and conductor Lavard Skou Larsen.
"A finely wrought new addition to the viola and piano repertoire"
Next year sees two premières (possibly another two, also, but news of these must wait a little longer...)!
PIANO CONCERTO no.2 (for which I had given up hope, it having languished now in my real bottom drawer for ten years, unwanted.)
SYMPHONY OF ROSES
Première by Maestro Kaspar Zehnder and the Biel Solothurn Theatre Orchestra in Switzerland - May 2016
Thank you to these two dear, talented friends! I am so looking forward to working with you both again, and to a new collaboration with Kristina!
Two wonderful reviews by Bruce Reader of CDs containing my work are now found on his excellent site The Classical Reviewer. If you want good, detailed, perceptive and honest writing I recommend this site more than any other. He not only listens, but does so in depth. His reviews do not trot out a few "clever remarks" designed to impress, adhere to bland desctiptions, or indeed indulge in a "throw-away" knifing. They are both informative and illuminating.
The CDs reviewed are:
"Pianist, Alessandro Viale shows consummate skill whilst never losing sight of the inner voice that runs through Peter Seabourne’s compelling piano work, Steps Volume 5: Sixteen Scenes before a Crucifixion, a new release from Sheva Contemporary"
"Peter Seabourne’s Pietà, recently released by Sheva Contemporary, is a powerful work that casts a real spell over the listener revealing him to be a composer of immense emotional clout."
This disc was also reviewed (in a rather strange way) by BBC Music Magazine.
"Seabourne's expressive and accessible score chimes well with Britten;s lyrical works, and the rich tonal palette of Hamann's playing is beautifully showcased in the work's demanding viola line."
(....having spent most of the review on the least important piece on the disc, and before complaining about the apparently "dry and ungenerous" recorded sound. Soup was obviously required?.... cf Bruce Reader who remarked "These players are really first class and are well recorded." - hmmm... If you have listened to the CD, please do send your own views (for or against).... or tweet Ms Wakeling if you wish (and engage with such things!) - @WakelingKate
Symphony no.3 is complete. A year of my life encapsulated.... Shorter than the 2nd it is still a substantial 33 minute work in four movements, which takes the listener from the airy ether down into the depths, but leaves him/her on starry heights! I already have plans for the next....
A good introduction, and a "fly on the wall" glimpse of my working space (and habits) is this little video:
Two new CDs released! Again from dear friends Sheva in Italy. These are starting to appear on web stores already etc...
Alessandro Viale will give the premiere of Steps Volume 5 at the Filarmonica Romana (Rome) this autumn. My deep thanks to Domenico Turi, Assistant Artistic Director!
The lastest volume of my large scale piano cycle series, Steps, takes its starting point from the Passiontide canvases of Caravaggio. Though the work is not religious or even directly related to specific paintings, it conjures up a psychological study of anticipated suffering that is more universal. Lasting together some 55 minutes, the sixteen pieces form a series of preludes (almost literally so!) to an event that is not yet witnessed - as if the anticipation is ongoing, the climax unresolved...
This movement (9) is demonic, brooding, perhaps even at times brutal.
And then a beautiful, melancholy CD from friends in Vienna. (It includes a lovely photo of Britten kindly permitted by the Yousuf Karsh Foundation.)
These are both amazing CDs, with truly outstanding, intense performances. They are available from Discovery-Records and widely online very soon. If you could find a reason to buy one I am sure the performers would be delighted....
Chinese premiere of the Double Concerto for Horn and Orchestra was on 7th August. Soloist is my dear, dear friend and champion Ondrej Vrabec, solo horn and assistant conductor of the Czech Phil, wtih whom I am truly delighted to work again! The conductor was the outstanding Lyu Jia - a real pleasure to work with him and his excellent NCPA Orchestra.
I am currently working on my 3rd Symphony. The first movement is complete along with a good portion of another, a funeral march.
I have heard that in August 2016 Ondrej Vrabec will give a performance of my Double Concerto for Horn and Orchestra in the National Centre for Performance Arts in Beijing. This is arguably China's most important concert hall, so quite an honour!
A busy Easter "holiday". With pianist Alessandro Viale we have recorded my Steps Volume 5 Sixteen Scenes before a Crucifixion in Rome's famous Accademia Filharmonica Romana. The CD will be released in the summer on Sheva label in Italy.
This was followed by a most amazing visit to Prague to stay with my dear friend, conductor and solo horn of the Czech Philharmonic, Ondrej Vrabec. We visited together the two Janacek houses at Hukvaldy and Brno, in the former holding the composer's baton and walking stick, and in the latter spending the most incredible afternoon viewing the autograph scores of the Glagolitic Mass and the Sinfonietta - one of the most amazing days of my life....
We even managed a visit, late at night, to one of the two houses that claim to be Mahler's birthplace. (We are all in his shadow, too!)
Like proverbial number 10 buses, I wait until my 54th year and then suddenly two symphonies come along at once... Actually this one has been maturing slowly, being composed alongside its earlier sibling. I have been most productive in recent months - all at once this big brother seems to be complete, my "pen" flying along as it did when I first started up again in 2014, the music writing itself.
Symphony no.2 is more abstract, but I'm rarely without influences and stimuli - this substabtial 45 minute, five-movement work is inspried by Bosch's angel trumpetters in his Last Judgement, and his Ascent into the Empyrean. It has prominent parts for two trumpets, which gradually move off stage.
I am already underway with no.3...
Bethel Balge has just kindly performed three of my Steps 2 movements in a doctoral recital in Minnesota, USA.
A nice review in Gramophone Magazine of my Steps 4: Libro di Canti Italiano by Fabio Menchetti. You can read it here. This is the third time a CD of mine has appeared.
Please do visit the website of Sheva Collection, owned by my dear friend Ermanno De Stefani - www.shevacollection.it . This innovative Italian label now has five CDs of my work, and there are more planned (indeed one is already partly recorded). Ermanno has amassed a large catalogue of very interesting repertoire, including many premiere recordings, and rarely performed works. His Stanford complete violin music triple CDs won many plaudits recently.
Sheva CDs can be found widely on the internet from the usual big stores, but also the excellent Discovery Records in my home town of Devizes. They are also available as digital downloads from the usual sources.
If you are an artist thinking of making a recording, do get in touch with Ermanno who has developed one of the least expensive ways to help you reach a large audience.
...I seem to have finished a symphony (Symphony of Roses), but there is the possibility that this might be commissioned so for the time being it will not appear here. Inspiration came from two W B Yeats poems and a J B Yeats (brother) painting. (The cover design is by Azadeh Razagdoost, artist friend from Tehran).
All my life I have yearned for quietness and the freedom to roam - in part, this is the product of growing up on a farm, where as a child I could just wander off and disappear into my own landscape, both real and imagined, and be unaccountable. Every summer since I have (in vain) sought to return to this world that was so precious to me - one holiday house after another, despite promising assurances of isolation and peace, turning out not to be it.. - always noise follows me like an angel of death - dogs, foul music... you name it..! Every time, crushing disappointment .... and with the knowledge that I must work like a dog for another year before the next chance will arise.
It is impossible to think properly in people-dominated spaces. I must be immersed in nature - not in an idealised, "pastoral" nostalgia - rather, simply being absorbed and integrated into the real forces that drive the world - most of all to become "insignificant" among them.
...Well, this summer I found it - a remote house in the Lake District. For the first time in 40-odd years I was "still"... but only for a couple of weeks before the hurly burly had to resume.... How hard to leave it all behind...
I will be having a great deal more to say about this man in the coming years. Particularly on the subject of commissions.
Borealis Quartet performed my "accept these few roses" at Casalmaggiore International Music Festival in Italy. New friends!
Some kind words in the catalogue of this leading American distributor.