A music-theatre work especially written for Wellington pianist Dan Poynton. Although referring indirectly to religious symbolism, the composition focuses on the physical and mental stress that pianists submit themselves to.
It is impossible not to feel inspired when playing some of Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues, Chopin’s 24 Preludes, Debussy’s two books of preludes, or Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues. As a composer I wanted to make a small mark of respect to these greats with some dedications. I have also taken a cue from Bach and Shostakovich and included contrapuntal forms within these preludes. While not wanting to restrict myself to the form of a fugue, there are several preludes which are close in spirit to fugues: Nos.17 and 19 for instance, are what I would call my ‘prelugues’. There is also a passacaglia (No.16) which owes a debt to Shostakovich. I have conceived these pieces as a unified whole. Within them I have attempted to cover a whole variety of characters and moods, from the improvisational and experimental to the lyrical and gentle, from the wild and gestural to the calm and peaceful, from the quirky and ‘black’ to the light and sunny, from the depressive to the resolved. The extensive technical planning and preparation behind these pieces has been fun for me as the composer, but in the end it is the sound and musical expression that matters. I would like to think this voyage of discovery has led to something new and interesting to listen to.
400 Roncesvalles Avenue is the address of the Revue Cinema, a historic movie-house in a historic area of Toronto, Canada. The way to approach the theatre from downtown is to take the subway eastbound to Dundas West station and from there to take a streetcar to the theatre. These are depicted at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the piece. The third and fourth section of this work also quote fairly extensively from the Adagio movement of Bruckner’s 8th symphony. The reason for this is that it was while I was resident in Toronto that I became familiar with and recognised the genius of this composer. I regret to say that I have no recollections of ever seeing any interesting films at the Revue Cinema. It is dedicated to Salvatore Martirano, who expressed a liking for the piece.
These five compositions were created to explore the unique harmonic essence of this most magnificent of instruments. The compositions were designed specifically for Timothy Hurd QSM, the carillon master of the Wellington War Memorial instrument in New Zealand, and for Gordon Slater, the Dominion Carilloneur for the Peace Tower situated in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Canada.
A Little Sleep was written for Tom McGrath, in 2009. It is a programmatic piece that evokes a bedtime scene. A child listens to a music box while she prepares for sleep. Her parents sings her a lullaby – the slower section – and she drifts off, but her sleep is disturbed by a nightmare, represented by the furious final section.