This piece was originally conceived for a mixed chamber group of 9 players, and received its first performance in 2002. It was arranged in this version for 2 pianos and 4 performers, for the Estrella Quartet, in 2011. The title refers to a scene from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream.
This work for clarinet quintet in three movements was written following time spent in the north of Scotland, during which I visited the remote and desolate places that my family left behind when they emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand in the 19th Century. Although the music is not intended to be strictly descriptive, the image underpinning the work is that of an infinite shore that stretches from the line of steep cliffs at Badbea overlooking the North Sea, around the world to the rocky southern shores of Aotearoa New Zealand. The work draws on the tonal colour and extremes of pitch that are possible in the clarinet, and the extraordinary platform of sound of the string quartet.
This piece is essentially a study of two elements. First is the resonance of the piano, triggered by pizzicati played by an assistant on the lowest strings. This resonance can then be altered with use of the sustain pedal; lifting the sustain pedal very gradually for example, creates the effect of a crescendo on a single note, this is something which is not normally possible on a piano. The second element is a melodic line on the keyboard. It acts as a foil by creating resonances of its own though a range of decorative figurations and implied harmonies that may or may not be sympathetic to the resonance set up by the pizzicati.
The concerto, in one movement, begins in darkness but soon ascends into lighter worlds as the tempo increases. The personality of the cello – romantic, nostalgic, cheeky, irreverent and even wild imbues the work with a wide range of moods and characterisation.
In many ways this is a companion piece to an earlier work, Vivid for solo trumpet, which also sets a powerful, sexually charged poem by Will Christie. But where Vivid is very often overtly violent and forceful in its gestures, deepwalker is mostly much subtler, almost passive-aggressive in outlook. The opening lines of the poem – “the day is a drum that connects these vocal loops with grey traffic circles bridge after bridge” – are mirrored in the cyclical, sometimes elliptical form of the work, loops and circles that play between registers of the clarinet. Sexual tension and aggression bubble away in the background, periodically rupturing the musical surface with piercing, angular outbursts, sometimes in parallel with the rather tender, fluid lines of the low register, and with the spoken text itself. This violent interplay creates a kind of disordered internal conversation, a bizarre hermetic character opening and shutting her windows; a clarinet of many voices.
These miniatures are an exploration of musical geometries: space, time, line, synchronicity and movement. The collection is a juxtaposition of shapes: fluid and concrete, organic and mechanical, robust and fragile. Each movement explores a particular spatial concept:
II. [dislocation] III. [impulse 1]
V. [diagonal 1]
VI. [intersection] VII. [diagonal 2] VIII. [impulse 2]
The movements are paired: I & IV; II & VI; III & VIII; V & VII. Together they represent an attempt to simplify and concentrate my rhythmic language while retaining the intensity of a previous piano piece, [f]at[on]ality. Throughout the set, a number of jagged rhythmic motifs rupture and finally completely replace the initially calm musical surface. These eight miniatures were written for two good friends, Simon Edwards and pianist Flavio Villani.
eye-glitter out of black air 3 is part of a cycle of works written for the Slovene wind quintet Slowind. To date, the cycle includes two wind quintets and solo pieces for each of the five members of the wind quintet. All of the chamber pieces from the cyle were peformed by Slowind at the Slowind Festival 2010 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.