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THE NEW VERSION OF MY WEBSITE CAN BE FOUND HERE (requires a modern browser...)
If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.


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Ensemble works (works for more than four players)

The Sadness of the King - septet
Child's Play... octet/wind quintet
Soaring - oboe+string quartet
My River - septet
Adrift - dectet
Phantasy Caprices - dectet
Storyteller


THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS. ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED. PRINTED COPIES ARE FOR EVALUATION PURPOSES ONLY 


The Sadness of the King - 2003/7
septet

dur. 13mins
View Score
in PDF format

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MP3 - click here for a performance by the Palomar Ensemble in Chicago - Dec 2008 (info)

After my long compositional silence this was the first larger piece to emerge in 2003. The starting point was the first of my 'Sappho Songs', which provided the brittle and cold colours of the opening and closing sections. The idea was that of the awaiting of the 'dance of spring' - perhaps Pluto imagining the return of Persephone. Whatever, the picture by Matisse, 'La Tristesse du Roi' also provided the idea of 'the decorative' ('arabesque' being something of a fixation anyway) and its rounded shapes, too, suggested a dance. Thus the piece gradually 'warms' through several sections to culminate in an ecstatic dance. This is brutally curtailed by fff low piano chords, and the aftermath returns to the desolation of the opening, ending in a briefest last ghostly 'frisson' in the still air.

The work has been performed three times, by members of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra in Lahti, Finland in 2007, and as a webcast by the ACM Ensemble (above). The latter group, now called the Palomar Ensemble, repeated the work in a concert in Chicago in Dec 2008.

Scoring: clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola and piano


Child's Play.... wind quintet - 2003/8
- also octet, and orchestra - see orchestra page)

wind quintet
dur. 24mins
View Score
in PDF format
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View Parts
in PDF format
Flute
Oboe Clarinet
Horn
Bassoon
(octet version)
dur. 5mins

(you may need to click the Play button twice, once to 'activate' the window and again to initiate playback. The controls reappear if you hover your mouse over the video window. If you would like to see a larger format version, please click here.)

This suite began as a miniature 'concerto' for the 'Schubert Octet' combination was written for a workshop with The London Mozart Players in Spring 2003. Inspired by everyday break time views of children at play at my school, and also by the Breugel 'catalogue' picture on the same subject, this Beethovenian scherzo is full of sudden shifts (of dynamics and metre); such that with the exception of a brief respite in the central section it is difficult to establish 'ground level' for other than a moment. The piece perhaps owes most to my former manner of writing in its jokiness and use of banal 'cliché'.

2008: Further movements were (finally) added - always it was my intention to expand the original piece into my own "Jeux d'Enfants", or "Mladi". This suite form is for wind quintet only. Inspiration for these later movements came from a visit to the magical world of Robert Coudray ("Poet Welder" of Brittany), whose refusal to abandon the sense of childhood wonder, and ability to "re-invent the invented" challenges our "comfortable sophistication"..... and expanded nicely with my earlier conception!

an excellent audio recording from Paul Klee Ensemble, Bern, will appear here soon.

I. Bricoleur de Lune - mp3 (computer generated)
II. Child's Play (original movement) - mp3 (computer generated)
III. The Sad Song of the Green Man - mp3 (computer generated)
IV. Pêcheurs d'Etoiles - mp3 (computer generated)
V. On the Way to the Hermit's House - mp3 (computer generated)
VI. Prince of the Air - mp3 (computer generated)

Scoring: wind quintet

This 2nd mvt of this work also exists as an octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola 'cello, double bass and in an orchestral version. I am unable to place a recording of the octet form online due to restrictions placed on it by The London Mozart Players.

Soaring - oboe and string quartet - 2003/7 (an arrangement of the original oboe-piano version)

oboe with
s
tring quartet version
dur. 11½mins
View Score
in PDF format
View oboe part
in PDF format

Soaring, in an earlier version for solo oboe with Schubert Trout Quintet combination, was awarded 3rd prize in the 3rd International Ivan Spassov Competition in Bulgaria in December 2004

Soaring was awarded 1st prize in the IMRO International Competition in Ireland in February 2006

mp3s of Duo version (in 4 movements) - live recording from Arklow festival (3 movements only) by Chris Redgate - oboe, and Mary Dullea - piano

1st movement (8:01) (2nd movement not played) 3rd movement (4:48) 4th movement (2:48)

Completed in August 2003 this marked to some extent unfinished business, starting afresh from the opening of a little piece partly written just before my long break. Initially conceived as an oboe/piano duo this was slightly expanded into a piece with a prominent oboe solo 'accompanied' by a piano quintet of the Schubert Trout line-up. However, reworking backwards, a duo version for oboe and piano was reconstructed. To add further to the complication, an additional 'scherzo' movement was added. More recently the sextet version was withdrawn in favour of a rescoring for oboe and string quartet (2007).

The piece takes its title from a line from an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem "The music soars within the little lark, And the lark soars". The first movement finds the oboe placed very high with fluid arpeggio like figures predominating. Its central section, by contrast, is more static and restrained. The second movement scherzo reworks one of my Sappho Songs, which is brief and somewhat relentless in its agitation based around diminished triads. The third movement is very much a cantilena: expressive and emotional. The short finale is a little dance, reworking ideas from the first movement.

Scoring: oboe, violin I, violin II, viola 'cello
also: oboe and piano duo

My River - septet - 2005

dur. 10mins
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in PDF format

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If you wish to hear a Real Player or mp3 audio recording of this work, please contact me and I will return a link (I am unable to post the files here directly)

Inspired by another Dickinson poem of the same name, this ten minute, one movement ensemble piece is turbulent and bubbling. The sound world is bright, with a clear, but soft-edged harmonic palette. The starting point is again my favourite three note motif A-G-E flat, and this courses through gestural and dance-like passages. These surround a central moment of poignant repose, which echoes the first piece of my current compositional incarnation - "Split the Lark...".

This work was selected by the North/South Consonance Ensemble of New York in open competition, and was given its première by them in June 2006 at the Church of Christ and St. Stephen in New York, under Max Lifchitz.

Scoring: flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, 'cello and piano


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Adrift (Chamber Concerto no.1) - dectet - 2008


(Adrift by Fai Zakaria - used by kind permission. Click on image for larger version and artist information)

dur. 16mins
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MIDI/mp3
(computer generated)

Adrift is a substantial single movement chamber concerto for ten players. It borrows material from an earlier string quartet ("Imber Song" - RVW Prize 1985) which has since been withdrawn. A poem by Emily Dickinson (again!) seemed to encapsulate its ideas, though this was only found after composition was complete: "movement into the unknown" (sometimes energetic, sometimes uncertain); and an unresolved tension between anxiety and passionate outbursts of emotion. The piece has a strong melodic dimension, but dance and my (well-worn!) harmonic palette are also central elements.

Adrift! A little boat adrift!
And night is coming down!
Will no one guide a little boat
Unto the nearest town?

So Sailors say - on yesterday -
Just as the dusk was brown
One little boat gave up its strife
And gurgled down and down.

So angels say - on yesterday -
Just as the dawn was red
One little boat - o'erspent with gales -
Retrimmed its masts - redecked its sails -
And shot - exultant on!

Scoring: flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, viola, 'cello and piano


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Phantasy Caprices (Chamber Concerto no.2) - dectet - 2009

dur. 17mins
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in PDF format
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mp3
1st mvt (computer generated)
2nd mvt - EMFEB Ensemble
3rd mvt EMFEB Ensemble

This work was written quickly (a month!) by invitation of EMFEB for a mini-festival at the Rosemary Branch Theatre - Big Music for Small Spaces. The brief was to create a response to a Mendelssohn work written in, or for, London. Stretching the point slightly, his piano work Phantasien oder Capricen op.16 was chosen (written in Wales and Surrey, but printed in London, during a break from his 1828 concerts in the capital).

"My stay with the Taylors was one of those events which I shall never lose from memory ; It will always be a flowery spot, a kind of oasis, with meadows and wild flowers and murmuring of brooks over the pebbles. We became real friends, I venture to think ; at any rate, I acquired a great liking for the young ladies, and I think they liked me, too. We were extremely jolly together, and three of my very best piano pieces I owe to them."

The original was written as a trio of presents for three girls with whose parents he had stayed. Each was inspired by a gift of flowers. It seemed only proper that the same three young ladies' initials ("A", "H" and "S") should provide the titles for my movements. A fragment of each of Mendelssohn's provided a seed, but there was certainly not the intention to imitation his style or to rework his material (alla Stravinsky Pulcinella etc.). There is a little further cross referencing between them in the central piece, and one 'moment of madness' in first when a 'collision' takes place between a raft of simultaneous quotations, completely masking each other (not all Mendelssohnian).

The first movement is, initially, richly 'blossoming', but with a building, bubbling movement, and at its climax, a vigorous frenzy. The second, a scherzo, attempts to capture the lightness of touch in such-like for which Mendelssohn was famous, though it uses more kaleidoscopic, fragmentary means around a fiery central section. The finale is a melancholically contrapuntal, but with warm horn and piano interludes. There is a sonorous climax before it dissolves into a gentle reminiscence. Mendelssohn called his movement "The Rivulet", and perhaps this movement matches that idea in its own meandering way.

Scoring: flute, oboe, clarinet (A), bassoon, horn, violin, viola, 'cello, double bass, piano


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Storyteller (Chamber Concerto no.3) - for double bass and eight players - 2010

(painting "Storyteller" by Ilgvars Zalans - used by kind permission)

dur. 15mins
View score
in PDF format

View solo bass part in PDF format
View parts in PDF format
flute, oboe, clarinet,
bassoon, horn, violin,
'cello, piano

mp3 here soon

The Paul Klee Ensemble via Fabio di Casolá and Kaspar Zehnder commissioned a concertino work for double bass and ensemble, entitled Storyteller, for a concert in Bern in January 2011. The theme of the concert was Childhood. The soloist was Ivan Nestic who also gave considerable help with the writing of the bass part.

"Storyteller" conjures up "a picture of story telling" itself rather than describing any specific plot. I imagined a scene with a gathering of people around a crackling fire in the dark of night, being manipulated by a slightly sinister character, casting flickering shadows and weaving his yarn with well dramaticised twists and turns. We all like to be scared a little by stories!

The solo bass both tells the story (via the ensemble) and comments upon it, sometimes stepping outside the narrative as if he were interpretting it in "asides" to his audience, who themselves occasionally react. The whole scene has a slightly malevolent air, with a "dark energy" and much animation, but, as in all good fairy stories, there is a happy ending!

After a brief "curtain up", the piece divides into three sections: fast-slow-fast.

Scoring: solo double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin, 'cello, piano


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