06 April 2007

Project with Mr McFall's Chamber

Apologies for not placing any posting for several months. It is April now, and the dizzy race of time has meant that I have left several developments unreported.

The main one to highlight is the project with Mr McFall's Chamber last February in Scotland. This virtuoso ensemble performed two concerts of music by my colleagues Kathryn Tickell and Tim Garland and by myself. The first was at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, and the second at The Old Tolbooth in Stirling.

Kathryn Tickell revived her Lordenshaws, a work for a chamber ensemble she had composed in 2000 to a commission from the ensemble Vaganza. This time the piece received a spirited rendition from a committed group which showed its trademark mercuriality by welcoming on its ranks Tickell herself on the Northumbrian pipes and Peter Tickell on fiddle. Allowed to flow with ease, Tickell's music shone with melodic invention, instrumental subtlety and, in the final movement, rhythmic energy.

Tim Garland was the bass clarinet soloist for the première of his In Translation. A gracefully melodious first movement was followed by a lively dance in six-four time full of Spanish echoes, more likely than not filtered through the lens of Ravel's Rhapsodie Espagnole. The closing movement seemed to me the most individual contribution, with passages of explosive energy showing the bass clarinet deployed to great effect in unison with low strings and the piano's left hand.

Of mine, the Chamber offered Botanic Spider, a work they returned to after their first incursion at the ¡Vamos! Festival last July. The combined effect of this increased familiarity with the player's sophisticated musicality brought this piece to its highest level of accomplishment ever. I was overcome by admiration and gratitude.

Mr McFall's Chamber also gave the première of Fantasia on a Theme by Kathryn Tickell, featuring Kathryn on Northumbrian pipes and all the wind players, underpinned by Rick Standley's double bass. The piece is a personal re-elaboration by me of Tickell's tune Kate's House.

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