Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brand new music for harpsichord


Jean-Philippe Rameau - Suite in D
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach - Fantasia in A minor
Franz Joseph Haydn - Sonata No 31 Hob XVI/46
Vicent Rodríguez Monllor - Sonata XXVII in C minor
Interval
Jeremy Peyton Jones (photo above) - In Memoriam Gát and Brodsky - first performance
Johann Sebastian Bach - Sinfonia No 8 BWV 794
JS Bach - Sinfonia No 9 BWV 795
György Ligeti - Passacagli ungherese
JS Bach - Invention No 13 BWV 784
Toru Takemitsu - Rain Dreaming
JS Bach - Invention No 14 BWV 785
G Ligeti - Hungarian Rock
G Ligeti - Continuum

This was the programme for last night's risk-taking harpsichord recital by Jane Chapman at the King of Hearts in Norwich. What a delight to see so much contemporary music in a thoughtfully compiled programme, and it was an even greater delight to attend the world premiere of a brand new work for harpsichord. Jeremy Peyton Jones (photo above) was born in Devon in 1955, and has worked with John Cage, Christian Wolff and the British pianist John Tilbury who is a leading exponent of Morton Feldman's music. Here are Jeremy Peyton Jones' programme notes for the new work:

In Memoriam Gát and Brodszky - When it was suggested that in order to fit with the rest of the programme this new piece for Jane Chapman might have a Hungarian theme, I was at first at a loss to know how to make the connection. However the combination of Hungary and the harpsichord led me to János Sebestyén's (right) fascinating brief history of the harpsichord in Hungary in which two of the key players are the pianist and harpsichordist József Gát, one time student of Béla Bartók, who taught piano and methodology at the Academy of Music and became interested in early instruments, and the eccentric Hungarian music scholar Ferenc Brodszky who owned one of the only two harpsichords in Hungary in the 1930s.

One of my main preoccupations in the creation of new music is how music both connects us to the past and also, as with any new creative endeavour pushes us forward into the future. A precedent of my approach here is Ravel's Tombeau de Couperin in which he both makes a homage to the sensibilities of the Baroque French keyboard suite while at the same time specifically making dedications in the music to friends and fellow sodiers who had died in the First World War.

In evoking the memory of József Gát (photo below) and Ferenc Brodszky (two people I know very little about) I am not so much evolking a personal memory of them as making a connection with two of those who have been closely connected with the harpsichord, its music and its history and who are therefore two links in the chain which connects us both across our cultural landscape and to our forebears. My piece is actually about the process of memory and connection in general, and could be dedicated to the memory of any person who is no longer with us through the specific connections of keyboard vituosity and the regular shapes and forms of much baroque keyboard music.

A programme such as tonight's is all about links - the links between baroque music, the music of Ligeti in Hungary, the history and legacy of harpsichord music in Hungary, which join periods and locations of creativity and human artistic activity.

My piece explores our relationship with the Western musical heritage through the use of virtuoso harpsichord techniques achievable by the simulataneous use of the two keyboards along with references to more contemporary contemporary music styles. There is another connection to József Gát who acquired an Ammer harpsichord and, assisted by an engineer friend, tried to install a discrete anplier that touched the strings - similar to the guitar - so that there was no need for a complicated solution with microphone.

In Memoriam Gát and Brodsky is in three sections. I Fast and Furious; II Calm and Measured; II Rocking and Rolling.


The János Sebestyén website really is worth visiting, there are music samples and wonderful photo albums. And take this path for a harpsichord recording I could not live without.
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