Artists, publishers and programmers from around the country nominated nearly 70 chamber pieces, from which a distinguished jury has chosen 12 works to be played and broadcast over a two year period from June 2011.
Jury members included BBC Radio 3’s Andrew Kurowski (chair), Guardian music critic Tom Service, clarinettist Joy Farrall, Alasdair Nicholson, Director of St. Magnus Festival and pianist/broadcaster Stephen Plaistow. All Encore live performances will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and accompanied by events designed to encourage wider audiences and greater understanding of the music.
The selected works are:
Azaleas *2004 +2005
A cycle of seven concise movements inspired by 7 translations by Brother Anthony (An Sonjae) of the same poem ‘Azaleas’ by the Korean poet Kim So-Wol. A distillation of Carpenter’s skill and style in a wonderfully sparse and tense landscape.
String Quartet *1988 +1996
A vivid and concise quartet, this early work already shows the composer’s individual voice and his preoccupation with mechanistic figuration. With an immediate appeal to the listener, it was described by the New York Times as ‘agile, imaginative and light-filled.’
Prometheus *1967 +2003
A wind sextet in which Ferneyhough explores the question of predetermination versus spontaneity in composition - the work has an extraordinary youthful energy and ambition.
Memoria *2002 +2002
An example of the effective use of the structure of a significant work in this case, a Bach cello suite) to create a context and framework for her own musical language. The work is written in memoriam for Frances-Hoad’s tutor Sidney ‘Jock’ Sutcliffe at the Yehudi Menuhin School.
Nine or Ten Osannas *1967 +1987
A series of vignettes, each reflecting an incident, friendship or musical discovery of the composer’s - he has described them as ‘thank-you messages in bottles.’ Of the fourteen brief sections, performers are invited to make their own selection and play them in their own order.
Phillip Neil Martin
An Outburst of Time *2004 +2005
A string quartet of exceptional quality, invention and subtlety and sophistication. The work reflects Martin’s fascination with philosophies of space and time and the Guardian described it as ‘striking and expressively charged.’
String Quartet No.3 *1980 +1994
The quartet has excellent spacing. It is airy and fresh: the lines settle gently against one another with no unnecessary busyness; chords and single notes alternate with infinite tact and variety.
String Quartet *1978 +1978
A single-movement work, regarded by the composer as one of his best. The work is constructed around three types of material, opening, slow movement and finale each of which is divided into subsections creating a tapestry of textures and tempi.
Harmonice Mundi *1982 +1982
Commissioned by the Lindsay Quartet, the title of the work is taken from the 1619 publication of the astronomer, astrologer and metaphysician Johannes Kepler. The quintet draws inspiration from this, contrasting different orbits of different legato and speeds, with astrological lore and with harmony both formal and sonorous.
A Yardstick to the Stars *1995 +1995
This glittering and virtuoso piano quintet has its basis in mathematics: the composer was inspired by the Greek invention of trigonometry, which allowed astronomers to calculate the distances from earth to the planets. Saxton’s whirling textures and drama brings this abstract concept to life.
String Quartet No.3 *1993 +1993
Composed in memory of a friend, Swayne creates a through-composed single movement work which develops organically. The work is full of invention, not to mention the occasional surprise, as when the melody of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ emerges in the final bars.
No Recording available.
String Quartet No. 4 *1993 +2002
This work was written for the Chilingirian Quartet and premiered in 1993. It divides into four movements. The opening brief introduction presents musical ideas which are explored throughout the piece and also includes an unusually placed violin cadenza. When the finale is reached, the opening music returns on viola and cello, as a kind of cantus firmus embroidered by violin semiquavers.
* premiere + last known performance
Mark Pemberton, Director, ABO: Membership of the RPS is invaluable in ensuring I tune into wider thinking on the state of classical music in the UK today.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Schaller Bust of Beethoven, donated in 1871, has stood on the platform of every RPS concert since then as a symbol of excellence and support for the living composer.