SPEECHLESS SKIES (2016)
for solo cello
World Premiere Recording
Jennifer Langridge (vlc)
St Michael's Ancoats, Manchester
24th March 2016
Speechless Skies is a short work scored for solo cello, and was written as part of Psappha's Composing for Cello scheme in winter 2015-16. It is the third in a series of works which evoke pastoral scenes from the Isle of Arran.
The Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde off the west cost of Scotland has always been particularly close to my heart, and I have drawn much inspiration from its immense beauty, potent ruggedness, and sobering weather.
I rarely intend to write programmatic music, but more to use the scene as a catalyst for the piece. Speechless Skies loosely recounts an evening I spent in Brodick (the main town on the island). Looking out at the sun setting beneath Goatfell (Arran's highest peak), the sunset created a fantastically clear, orange sky which illuminated every nuance of the horizon. As the sky transfigured into deeper oranges, purples and eventually jet-black ebony, pin-pricks of light from stars became clearer and more vivid. This reticence of exposure is explored in Speechless Skies by melancholic, disjointed melodic material which is coloured by scurrying, rising harmonics.
Speechless Skies is dedicated to Jennifer Langridge and Psappha. I am indebted to Jennifer for her invaluable advice and guidance in writing this work. T.H.
FIVE MINIATURES (2016)
for solo piano
Philip Sharp (pno)
International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester
18th March 2016
Five Miniatures is dedicated to Philip Sharp, who commissioned it in autumn 2015. I am indebted to him for asking for this work, as it gave me the opportunity to write my first solo piano piece for many years.
I have little intention to write programmatic music in most of my output, and these five title-less miniatures seek to explore the colour, dynamism and virtuosity of what I find to be a difficult instrument to write for. It could be imagined that each miniature is a study of sorts, as each one exists within its own ‘box’: that is to say that they individually deal with a very limited scope of disparate musical material. That said, they are linked by a series of repeating chordal progressions and thematic ‘hooks’, with each movement utilising a harmonic language that is built with stacked fourths and fifths, and melodic material which features minor thirds and compound major 2nds throughout.
HARD HIT (2016)
for solo bass trombone and electronics
for solo trombone
for solo trumpet and electronics
Christoph Blatzer: 15th May 2010
CNRR RNCM, Manchester
for solo piano
Carson Becke (pno): 24th November 2011
Trinidad and Tobago University
Part of the Commonwealth Pianorama
HARD SET (2015)
for solo trombone and electronics
Elizabeth Bateman (ttbn): 12th May 2015
RNCM Concert Hall
for solo tuba and backing track