August brings a series of piano work releases including the large scale Sudden Memorials by Kevin Malone for the 9/11 20th anniversary. Also works by Anthony Gilbert, Gordon Crosse, Jeremy Pike, Lynne Plowman, Martin Bussey, Mario Pagotto, Marc Yeats, Naresh Sohal, Rob Fokkens, Richard Pantcheff, Silvina Milstein, Terence Allbright, Tonia Ko and Vic Hoyland for orchestra, ensemble, chamber, voice, clarinet, flutes, violin, organ, trumpets, bassoon, and choir.
for medium-size symphony orchestra
During 2020, the ‘year of fear’ of COVID-19, I found myself sketching out two medium-length ‘tone-poems’ for orchestra, aimed in their different ways at celebrating being alive. The main motive for writing the piece was as a largely gentle reflection on my half-century of association with Manchester, much of which being in close association with the Royal Northern College of Music, as Tutor and finally, Head of Composition and Contemporary Music.
Liaison, lasting a little over eleven minutes, is dedicated to my long-standing friend and colleague, the distinguished conductor Timothy Reynish MBE, in deep gratitude for all the support and championing of my work he has shown over these fifty years.
This reference publication contains all the cues used in the Granada Television production of ‘King Lear’.
In 2020 Crosse created Lear – A Symphonic Study a concert work derived from the material for ‘King Lear’.
for solo piano and optional tape or drone
Ghost Chorales was commissioned by Spitalfields Music for the 2021 Spitalfields Festival, for inclusion on Matt Belcher’s film Bach Rework’d, performed by the composer. The piece can be played as a stand-alone solo piano piece, or with a ‘tape’ part which is in essence a transformative drone on F-sharp. The performer can also create their own drone, which should be on F-sharp, and this can either be a static drone or a transforming drone.
A tape part created by the composer is available from Composers Edition.
This intermezzo is the first of Three Pieces for Piano composed between 1974 and 1978 which comprise two intermezzi and a more substantial piece entitled Separations.
First performance: Susan Tomes, King’s College, Cambridge, 1975. First broadcast: Jonathan Middleton, BBC Radio 3, October 2018.
Recording on ASC Classical Series ASC CS CD1, Contemporary British Piano Music, released September 1997, with Jonathan Middleton, piano (Three Pieces for Piano).
for soprano, treble recorder, violin and cello
This piece was specially commissioned for performance in the William Alwyn Festival 2018. It is a setting of a poem by W B Yeats, in which it may be argued that the poet sees himself as a cat, trying unsuccessfully to woo and entice the moon, which may represent Maud Gonne, the object of his attentions in so many of his poems. For the references to dance I have incorporated elements typical of an Irish jig (for the cat) as well obscure fragments of the more courtly waltz (for the moon).
First performance: 4 October 2018 by Lesley-Jane Rogers (soprano), John Turner (recorder), Richard Simpson (oboe) and members of the Villiers Quartet, Blythburgh, Suffolk, in A Celebration for Sir John Manduell.
Recording available from Divine Art DDA 25210, Songs for Sir John, released September 2020. Lesley-Jane Rogers (soprano), John Turner (recorder), Richard Simpson (oboe), Benedict Holland (violin) and Nicholas Trygstad (cello).
In 2006, I took a photo in of a makeshift wire fence near the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 Shanksville, Pennsylvania. On the fence, visitors had been attaching objects of remembrance, loss, honour and thanks since the crash.
Sudden Memorials has an option for the pianist to improvise for two minutes while looking at the photo. During concert performances, the pianist is asked to seek invisible memorial objects from within the piano, the score and the air. These gestures coincide with the start of a subsequent musical “object”, some of which sound intimate or hesitant, others being extrovert and jarring.
Sudden Memorials is dedicated to Adam Swayne who is scheduled to give the premiere at Wigmore Hall, London on 11 Sept 2021 at 1pm, the exact hour in Britain 20 years on the from the beginning of 9/11. A recording is being released on the Coviello label in September 2021.
This short piece was composed for composer/pianist Rolf Hind’s lockdown challenge in May 2020. The brief was to write a piece lasting a minute reflecting the experience of lockdown. This piece does so by celebrating new life in a recently planted apple tree.
Floreat Coll. Reg. mvt. 2 for piano
This is the second movement of a set of two pieces titled Floreat Coll. Reg. These were commissioned by pianist Matthew Schellhorn as part of a recital at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival in July 2021. The title reflects two strands behind the works’ genesis. Matthew’s recital was mainly of the piano music of Herbert Howells, amongst whose output were many keyboard pieces celebrating musical influences and friends, using the Renaissance convention of attributing dances or other movements to individuals.
Floreat Coll. Reg. mvt. 1 for piano
This is the first movement of a set of two pieces titled Floreat Coll. Reg. These were commissioned by pianist Matthew Schellhorn as part of a recital at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival in July 2021. The title reflects two strands behind the works’ genesis. Matthew’s recital was mainly of the piano music of Herbert Howells, amongst whose output were many keyboard pieces celebrating musical influences and friends, using the Renaissance convention of attributing dances or other movements to individuals.
duo for Kingma System alto flutes
A timecode-supported polytemporal duo for Kingma System alto flutes.
comforted by a static bond is dedicated to my friends and colleagues, the flautists, Carla Rees and Karin de Fleyt.
There is no programmatic intention in what unfolds as sound in this piece: any or no relationship to the title and the sounding music is forged at the discretion of the composer, performer and listener. Despite this statement, there is an unfolding of material that manifests through contrasting sections of music to hopefully provide the listener with a compelling experience even without programmatic intent. It is the interplay between and within these sections that is the narrative content of the composition.
a landslide event for voices
sturzstrom has been composed as ‘a landslide event for voices’ meaning the work attempts to depict landmass movement and geological process as found along the ‘Jurassic Coast’ of East Devon and Dorset. Naturally, this depiction is not a scientific reconstruction of these processes in sound; rather, an imaginative response to these forces and outcomes as contrived in the composer’s imagination and amplified by the individual contributions of the performers.
sturzstrom was commissioned by the Lighthouse, Poole with support from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation as part of Coastal Voices. Coastal Voices has been granted the Inspire Mark by the London 2012 Inspire programme. The London 2012 Inspire programme recognises innovative and exceptional projects that are directly inspired by the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
i urge the moment forward is dedicated to the pianist, Geoffrey Burleson.
‘Fear defines us
Defines our borders
Furnishes our state
Holds us down
I urge the moment forward
More valuable one
To fall through my fingers’ (Marc Yeats)
for soprano, strings and Indian drums
Three poems in Bengali from ‘Gitanjali’ by Tagore. The text for the soprano is transcribed in the Roman alphabet, to assist performers who are not fluent in Bengali. English translations are included. German translations are available from the website of The LiederNet Archive.
an operatic monodrama in six scenes for baritone and five instruments
The scenario for Bhekizizwe was devised collaboratively by Njabulo Madlala, Robert Fokkens, Benjamin Davis, and Mkhululi Mabija, and traces the life of Bhekizizwe Shange, a young Zulu man, from his childhood during the last years of apartheid in South Africa to studies and unexpected fatherhood in the UK in the early 2000s.
for violin and violoncello
Pier Music was commissioned by Alice Neary and David Adams for the Penarth Chamber Music Festival 2021 with funds from the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund for Organisations and subscriptions to the PCMF’s ‘Buy a bar’ scheme. It was premiered by David and Alice at Penarth Pier Pavilion in June 2021, and is dedicated to them.
for string quartet
My operatic monodrama Bhekizizwe, written with librettist Mkhululi Mabija and premiered in March 2021 as a film by Opera’r Ddraig, tells the story of the title character from his early childhood in apartheid South Africa to studies and parenthood in the UK. When the Villiers Quartet asked me to be part of the From Home project, it struck me that this story of immigration – and the questions around where ‘home’ is which arise as Bhekizizwe starts to build relationships in the UK – connected well with the themes they were looking to explore.
Spinning, Weaving introduces the materials from two arias from Bhekizizwe as a series of fragmented lines and ideas which gradually get spun into musical threads. These threads are ultimately woven together into a passage which is very close to the arias before it again loses focus and dissipates.
for clarinet in Bb and pre-recorded electronics
Janus is a rhapsodic set of variations on a fixed harmonic configuration consisting of a group of seven notes and another of five, together adding to the total chromatic. While the clarinet and the electronics, each alternate between these collections of notes continuously, between them they always unfold complementary groups.
Janus was realised at the Electronic Music Studio of Glasgow University (directed by Stephen Arnold) using an EMS Synthi 100 treated through a variety of tape-delays and room reverberations. A digital version of the electronics (originally on magnetic tape) is available.
for eleven players
In of lavender light … I have explored unfolding musical motives, gestures, and phrases against harmonically static textures, which function as pedal points. The continuously proliferating lines and embellishments heard throughout eventually dissolve into a melody played by a violin, its contours carrying memories of an Argentinian popular song.
Recorded by Lontano (fire dressed in black: Silvina Milstein Chamber Works, LORELT, LNT129).
This dyptych – written for Darragh Morgan – takes its title from a poem by Jorge Luis Borges, in which the Sufi poet Attar of Nishapur addresses a rose ‘in words that had no sound, as one who thinks rather than one who prays’.
The pieces may be played singly or as a set.
The Unending Rose has been recorded by Caroline Balding (fire dressed in black: Silvina Milstein Chamber Works, LORELT, LNT129).
for two trumpets
Reading Rachel Cusk’s novel Kudos I was struck by a character pointing out that kudos can be misappropriated. I realised how much more complex a concept it is than glory – its usual translation. I had been wanting to write a piece for my friend Fraser Tannock, and both words inevitably made me think of trumpets. After their opening squabble the two instruments diverge far apart, so that in the third section they struggle to communicate; things improve in time for the final passage and the race to the finish.
Tilt is a short study for bassoon that imagines shifting perspectives: the more we bend, the closer the ground appears, the more we tilt upward, the broader the perspective, and we might even appreciate the horizon in the distance. By slightly alternating basic fingerings for the bassoon, the sonic results are either subtle, microtonal deviations or suddenly dramatic, noisy multiphonics.
Tilt was written for the 200 PIECES project, in celebration of the Royal Academy of Music Bicentennial in 2022.
It was premiered by Hugo Mak, winner of the 2021 Florence Woodbridge Bassoon Prize, on 24 June 2021.
for soprano solo and chamber choir
Notre-Dame de Chartres was first performed in Beverley Minster on June 27th, 1966 by the Juilliard singers.
The text is a setting from “La Cathedrale” [published May 1955 by MARSYAS] by Pierre Hebert – written 1944 – 53, Paris.
Tags: Kevin Malone