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.


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


Piano

My ongoing anthology entitled STEPS is projected to run throughout my life, as a sort of 'companion'. Begun in 2001 it has now entered its fourth volume. Piano music was the medium by which I came back into composing after a twelve year silence. Two people were catalysts in re-igniting my desire to write: the first was my good friend Michael Bell, of Keele University, who threw down the gauntlet to me (pretty much signing a blank cheque - "You write it, I will play it"!); the second was a gifted young pupil of his, whose precocious playing reminded me, somewhat belatedly, of what had lain dormant for too long: that music was indeed beautiful and the most powerful conveyer of thought and expression yet devised by man. Perhaps, sometimes the 'obvious' needs to be said, and, as the Psalmist has it, 'from the mouths of babes...'. I am eternally indebted to both.

Michael Bell

Michael Bell - many fine recordings here

STEPS

Volume 1 is not intended in any way as a cycle but rather, in the manner of (for example) Grieg's Lyric Pieces, a collection from which performers may choose as they wish. It was not, indeed, written as a single entity, being the accumulation of several years' work. There is, intentionally, a wide range of technical difficulty, with some pieces being playable by younger musicians. Some were indeed intended for, and played by, its young dedicatee. They have since been performed in Denmark by young students of my good friend Mario Ramón Garcia, I believe.

Volume 2 "Studies of Invention" is a unified cycle, though it could equally well be selected from 'a piacere'. Several players have already taken this route, though I hope one day it will be given in its entirety.

Volume 3 "Arabesques" is under way as a collaborative project with my aunt, the painter Ann Seabourne. This is intended to culminate in an exhibition of paintings stimulated by the Alhambra in Granada, with a related recital of the new work by Michael Bell.

The composer is simultaneously working on Volume 4 "Libro di Canti Italiano" for the Italian pianist and dear friend Giuseppe Fausto Modugno.

Steps volume 1
Steps volume 2 - "Studies of Invention"
Steps volume 3 - "Arabeques"
Steps volume 4 - "Libro di Canti Italiano"



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.


STEPS volume 1

Trois Petits Adieux
Split The Lark..
Still
The Little White Girl
Over The Ocean
Little Scene
Awake!
The Sun - just touched the Morning!
Greeting!
In Winter
Suspended Journeys
El Suspiro del Moro

The entire volume can also be seen here as a single file (144 pages...)

Trois Petits Adieux

dur. 7mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
 
Performances by Michael Bell
mp3

'Trois Petits Adieux' were composed in 2001 as a parting gift for a talented pupil. Written somewhat in the tradition of Nineteenth Century pieces 'for the young', approachable yet not patronising, each was inspired by a poem of the American 'visionary' Emily Dickinson. The first is a song, the second playfully capricious, and the third paints a bleaker landscape with ghostly, delicate "echoes''.
back to top


Split The Lark...
dur. 7mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
 
Performance by Michael Bell
mp3

'Split the Lark...' shares the same starting point, and was written concurrently with the shorter pieces above. It is dedicated to a good friend, Michael Bell. The Dickinson poem speaks of how once the 'shell' is cracked the musical essence that has been concealed inside is discovered, comes flooding out, as indeed did this music, composed after a 12 year silence.There are two sections: it begins in arabesque-like mood, lilting and melancholy, with an insistant tonic-subdominant harmonic movement. However, this is within a rhythmic world of constantly changing, subtle irregularities. A declamatory climax is reached, followed by a brief recapitulation. The piece concludes with a shorter postlude, gently 'pulsing', and using some of the earlier material, but unravelling all the while, as if the dream goes wrong - finally, the 'discovered' music fades.
back to top


Still

 dur. 6mins

View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

Performance by Minjeong Shin
mp3

barcarolle like miniature, written in 2002 as one of a pair. The piece was inspired by a gondola funeral procession witnessed in Venice, with (Berlioz-like) 'the beloved' carried away in a silent rocking procession. There is an 'imposed stillness' which barely contains the tumult hidden beneath the surface. Just once this breaks through the sultry harmonic world, before control is one again seemingly gained.
back to top
The Little White Girl
 dur. 4:30mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
mp3
fragment
from an uncompleted recording session by Michael Bell
MIDI
(computer generated)

The foil to the above, 'The Little White Girl' was written in 2002 as a response to a poem by Swinburne called 'Before The Mirror'. He in turn had appended this to a painting by Whistler, 'The Little White Girl II', depicting the 'young' girl questioning her [..rather more mature!] reflection. The reflection (!) of this counterpoise of the innocent and the half-knowing is reflected in two types of music in this short piece. The first unsettled, sometimes passionately so, contrasting with delicate sections, with characteristic use of quintuplets. Towards the end 'the heart' is allowed to dance, for a brief moment, before the simplicity returns.
back to top


Over The Ocean
 dur. 6mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
Performance by Minjeong Shin
mp3

The first of a number of piano pieces of 2003, 'Over the Ocean' is a vague pun on 'Seabourne', and is a monumental sounding piece. Heavy 'masculine' chords, almost like 2-piano writing, alternate with tender, simpler music. The piece has a sense of sea journey, of casting out towards the unreachable horizon.

The video and audio above are of the work's first performance by Minjeong Shin in Philadelphia in April 2011. I am indebted to this powerful and expressive interpretter for bringing my work to life (after it had lain in my drawer for eight years with no real hope of ever being heard!).
back to top


Little Scene
 dur. 4:30mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
MIDI

This piece, also from 2003, shares the sound world of the pieces above, as well as a common sense of 'tonality' and melodic conour. Gentle yearning predominates, and blossoms into mutlilayered rhythmic arabesque.
back to top


Awake!
 dur. 3:30mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
MIDI
(computer generated)

'Awake!', whilst not a 'process' piece, nevertheless has a certain 'working out' quality. Ideas derived from the numbers 15 and 12 are expanded to create a stuttering, perhaps manic, scherzo-like movement, with overtones of improvisation and syncopation. The piece has a certain 'Spring' quality - the birth dance of Persephone, anew.
back to top


The Sun - just touched the Morning!
dur. 3:45mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
Performance by Michael Bell
mp3
Performance by Minjeong Shin
mp3

The first of two shorter pieces written in May/June 2003. This is a lyrical, song-like piece, with extensive rubato and an intense melancholic air. Its source is once again EmilyDickinson - Morning is touched by the Sun, thinking it will be there to stay, but its visit is merely temporary and leaves a dimmer glow behind.
back to top
Greeting!
 dur. 2:15mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
Performance by Michael Bell
mp3

This acts as an 'album leaf' to volume 1. A simple, innocent, bright, dancing little piece, as befits the breaking of a long silence - a moment of naïve, joyful release!
back to top


In Winter
6 Little Pieces for piano
dur. 10mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
MIDI
(computer generated)

Im Windesweben
Am Baches Ranft
Winter Landscape with Rocks
Noch zwingt mich treue
The Lark in Winter
The Rose in Winter

These pieces were composed within relatively simple technical limits so as to be approachable by a younger or amateur player. Simple miniatures, four take their leads from poems (by Stefan George, and Sylvia Plath) - the last two reconnect with previous musical personae.
back to top


Suspended Journeys
3 essays for piano
dur. 15mins
View Scores in PDF format
19
Black
A Touch
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
MIDI
(computer generated)
19
Black
A Touch

I. 19 - II. Black - III. A Touch

"Suspended Journeys", dating from 2003-4, tries to combine the idea of forward movement with a paradoxical sense of stasis - journeys that have become becalmed as they each tread something of a wheel.

"19" has an element of primal surge. It wells its way up from the depths, using the E flat and A tritone as harmonic generator, striving towards something that it will one day be, and yet already is. The rhythm is driving and obssessive, but grace and radiance cohabit with drama and dynamism. "Black" is an extended nocturne-like piece. This night journey rocks only slowly forward - perhaps a return vision of the funeral gondola of "Still" above. "A Touch" is a toccata, employing much change of accent and metre; full of energy but nevertheless struggling to escape the same harmonic pre-occupations as the other pieces.
back to top


El Suspiro del Moro
dur. 12mins
 View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
MIDI
(computer generated)

Inspired, as so many have been, by the magical achitecture and history of Granada this piece takes its title from the legend of King Boabdil, the last Moorish king, who, on being ousted by the Christian reconquerors, is said to have looked back from a distant hill over his beloved, now lost city and sighed. My piece is a lament, with bitter, melancholy, reflective, passionate, trance-like dancing twists. It is dedicated to the young Croatian pianist Ivana Vidovic with the première originally planned for the Festival Iberica in Brno in August 2007 - [addendum: sadly this festival was 'postponed' and the piece has never, to my knowledge, been played].
back to top



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.


STEPS volume 2
Studies of Invention

Steps volume 2: Studies of Invention

dur. c48mins

View Complete Score
in PDF format (87 pages)
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

Book I

Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS
mp3
(computer generated)
Reutlingen Kammerzyklus 2009
see note below
Campus Degli Incamminati Festival in Modigliana, Italy 2009
5th International Yerevan Festival
Ocotber 2011
Flying Machines View Score
mp3
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
live performance by Giuseppe Modugno
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
Sixty Beggars
View Score
mp3
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
Old Man with Water Studies View Score
mp3
Study of a Woman's Hands
View Score
mp3
The Kite of the Cradle View Score
mp3

Book II

Tank View Score
mp3
live performance by Giuseppe Modugno
Polishing Imperfections in Glass View Score
mp3
live performance by Giuseppe Modugno
A Moth to the Light View Score
mp3
Perspectives of Disappearance View Score
mp3
La Scapiliata View Score
mp3
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
live performance by Giuseppe Modugno
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*

Book III

The Existence of Nothingness View Score
mp3
The Impossibility of Perpetual Motion View Score
mp3
Lenses for Looking at the Moon View Score
mp3
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
Study of a Deluge View Score
mp3
This is the Way Birds Descend View Score
mp3
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*
*live performance by Konstantin Lifschitz*

A visit to the Leonardo museum in his birthplace of Vinci in the summer of 2007 provided the inspiration for a set of studies/inventions. The reconstructions and models of designs by one of the most productive, creative minds in history set me wondering what more human emotions might have lain behind the moments of insight, frustration, joy and wonder. It is thus those, rather than the 'products' themselves which these pieces seek to explore. As time progressed over the Autumn of 2007, with various books read, the scope of the set expanded to include drawings, paintings, and literary starting points.

This volume, unlike the first Steps, above, is a cycle and could be performed as such. However, it is subdivided into three books which could work as separate units. I also have no objection to players selecting freely to make their own performance sets.

Flying Machines evokes the products of Leonardo's obsession with birds and flight, and is full of surging, exuberant broken chords. Sixty Beggars refers to a stipulation in Leonardo's will that his funeral cortège should include these among it. Mordents and rather smudged harmonies prevail amidst funereal tones. Old Man with Water Studies relates to a drawing of a seated old man, probably a self-portrait, and unrelated, sketches of rivers in motion. My piece tries to mix both ideas (that were purely co-incidentally adjacent, all available scraps of paper being used!). Study of a Woman's Hands is a graceful drawing (seen by the composer in Leeds, when on tour); so this is treated to a berceuse-like lilting. The Kite of the Cradle is an almost ecstatic rhapsody. Leonardo talks of an early memory of a hawk landing on his cot.

Tank is a truculent, rumbling piece in imitation of Leonardo's famous (but impractical) design. With slight tongue-in-cheek Polishing the Imperfections in Glass refers to a machine for polishing perfect mirrors for use in telescopes: its gentle regularity perhaps partially reflecting the manner of a composer far from my own aesthetics.... A Moth to the Light was Leonardo's analogy of our pointless strivings in life, so this is a jittery, nervous scherzo. Perspectives of Disappearance plays on the ideas of the mysteries of drawing and personal farewells. La Scapiliata presents a delicate portrait of a young woman, with perhaps an enigmatic smile like a pre-echo to the famous one in the Louvre (....I am told by Prof Martin Kemp from Oxford University that this work is in fact spurious, though Leonardo-esque!).

The Existence of Nothingness stems from a philosphical analysis of what lies between past and future. My movement has an ambiguous, slightly unstable, emotional quality. The Impossibility of Perpetual Motion is a whirring but somewhat 'lumpy' tarantella: Loenardo realised that motion was always ultimately constrained by friction. Lenses for Looking at the Moon tries to create the half-glimpsed view of another plane of existence available to astronomers of the time. Study for a Deluge is a portrayal of power, but of a rather noble kind, after the series of such drawings on the forces of nature unleashed. Mine is a massive sounding piece on four staves! This is the Way Birds Descend provides a fluttering, hovering, yet passionate, reflection of Leonardo's lifelong obsession with flight and the study of nature's aviators. Like Beethoven's last sonata, it departs amid a sea of trills.

Four movements from this work were included in the Campus degli Incamminati Festival in Modigliana, Italy (August 2009) by Giuseppe Fausto Modugno - recordings above

Konstantin Lifschitz played five movements in his Reutlingen recital - 8th October 2009. This performance and the pieces were widely praised in the local press. The selection was repeated at the 5th Yerevan International Festival in October 2011.

*(The live Lifschitz performances above were taken with a small hand held device some distance back in the audience. They are of very poor sound quality, and have a lot of ambient noise. "Flying Machines", in particular, sadly suffers from much distortion.)

back to top



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.


STEPS volume 3 - piano solo - 2008-2012
Arabesques

Ann Seabourne painting in her studio - Alhambra series

A visit to the Alhambra in Granada sowed seeds - on visiting my aunt, the painter Ann Seabourne I discovered that the same had happened to her. We had both already finished pieces in response (mine "El Suspiro del Moro" - some of hers here), but the idea was hatched that further work might cross-fertilise, stimulate and potentially develop in tandem. This was not to be 'descriptive' music, or 'translations' of the paintings; likewise the art would lie far from "impressionistic reflets dans l'eau". There would instead be an exploration of motif, detail, forgotten corner, calligraphic resonance etc.. As with my previous set, "Studies of Invention", there is an intention to explore 'the experience' as much as "the observed". ["I close my eyes to see" - Paul Gaugin]

A few pieces are now completed. The cycle's eventual shape and dimensions are not yet fixed, but potentially will comprise perhaps seven, eight, nine (?) short to medium sized pieces, some of which relate specifically to individual paintings, others being rather more generic. At present there is the thought that the cycle may present dawn to dusk at the Alhambra.

View/print the complete cycle in pdf format

Separate pieces in pdf format:
1. The Bright Window
2. Generalife - daybreak (I am the garden, revealed in beauty every morning)
3. Melted silver, pearls, tears, clouds
4. Fountains
5. Hamann Baths - blue secrets
6. Mid-Afternoon -The Red Fort
7. Water Gardens - the dark watchers - evening
8. Daydream - domes of mocarabes

mp3s

If the mp3s do not open automatically when you click, just right-click and select "Save Target As", or "Save Link As" etc. (depending on your browser), and save them to your computer.

1. The Bright Window
2. Generalife - daybreak (I am the garden revealed in beauty every morning)
3. Melted silver, pearls, tears, clouds
4. Fountains
5. Hamann Baths - blue secrets
6. Mid-Afternoon -The Red Fort
7. Water Gardens - the dark watchers - evening
8. Daydream - domes of mocarabes

(*composer incompetently playing, mainly for the use of his aunt - certainly not a performance as I am not a pianist, and only marginally better than the crass computer realisations - just a guide!)

back to top



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.


STEPS volume 4
Libro di Canti Italiano

dur. c. 45mins
View Score in PDF format
THESE ARE NOT PUBLIC DOMAIN WORKS

Giuseppe Fausto Modugno

My good friend Giuseppe Fausto Modugno was so kind is presenting my work at his festival in Modigliana in 2009. I decided, whilst in Italy, to write him a cycle. Originally I had intended to create a (somewhat harsh, perhaps) portrait of Bertinoro: a lovely village near Forlì, but which had given me no sleep or peace for two weeks with its incessant dog-barking and loud, music of the very worst sort, played until the small hours. Save for one little "souvenir", and more charitably, a different idea slowly formed. This was to create an "Italian song book" (title after Hugo Wolf), with relatively short pieces in clearly drawn colours and characters. These had the facets of Giuseppe's playing in mind. Over the next two years a substantial set developed (concurrently with, Steps 3, the volume above).

The nineteen pieces have a predominantly nocturnal, romantic, rather melancholic, at times even stormy feeling, but not entirely so - indeed, the first and last are truly joyful (akin to my "Greeting!" from Steps volume 1), and others are playful, even enigmatic. One is written in hommage to my teacher of old, Robin Holloway, who shares Giuseppe's love of Schumann.

In time I plan a second half to this set (perhaps my Steps 5)...

Canto della Vita mp3/computer generated
Domande mp3/computer generated
Viaggio di Notte mp3/computer generated
Piccolo Canto d'Amore Tremante mp3/computer generated
Piccolo Canto delle Gocce di Pioggia mp3/computer generated
Canto I miei Sogni mp3/computer generated
Passi Sbagliati - Canzone Bacchica mp3/computer generated
Canto della Ragazza da Toulouse mp3/computer generated
Canto delle Farfalle mp3/computer generated
Carillon Triste mp3/computer generated
Canto d'Ammutinamento mp3/computer generated
Notturno mp3/computer generated
Canto Burbero mp3/computer generated
Canto Lontano mp3/computer generated
Anche gli Uccelli - Souvenir de Bertinoro mp3/computer generated
Canto Oscuro mp3/computer generated
Canto delle Foglie Cadenti mp3/computer generated
Canzonetta in Stile Antico (omaggio da Robin Holloway) mp3/computer generated
Canto Gioioso mp3/computer generated

back to top


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

If you have arrived at this page from a search engine (e.g. Google) and cannot see the menu system, please click here.

This site uses frames - if you want to bookmark this page click here