VOCAL MUSIC

Friends Karen Radcliffe and Michael Bell singing the cycle "September, Just Septembers"

Rather as for Mahler, Schubert and Tippett, it was my songs that provided "points of departure" for other work. Though I do not claim the rich potential of Des Knaben Wunderhorn, my four "early" song cycles, composed in the infancy of my personal renaissance, seemed to contain a hundred further ideas. Some of these I feel still lay unexploited, even ten years later.

I always wanted my songs to acknowledge a certain "modest intimacy", a restricted yet potent micro-world, whilst attempting to conjure larger canvases by working in cycles after the fashion of Schubert and Schumann. They are emphatically songs and not "vocal works".

The iconic American recluse and visionary Emily Dickinson provided texts for two sets. Aside from their intrinsic qualities, I am also drawn to her use of personal iconography which finds parallels in my own musical vocabulary. Dickinson has also inspired a number of my purely instrumental works. My other two "early" sets are smaller in scale, one using fragments of Sappho reworked in French by the maverick Renée Vivien; the other classical Chinese texts in English translation.

Recently (2013) I at last returned to the genre with a large cycle called "Sonnets to Orpheus", setting Rilke (in German).

Aside from songs, I must confess to having relatively restricted vocal interests. There is one short carol for choir and a now withheld, but one day to be recomposed, large-scale "scena" setting Rilke's extraordinary Orpheus.Eurydike.Hermes.. (I would welcome any commissioning or programming interest leading to an opportunity to complete this project for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra, the first half of which contains some of the best music I have written...!)

Please explore the vocal pieces below. When you click a window will open where you can read programme notes, listen, and view the score/parts.