Chamber Music

From my office and from my home I can see York Minster and hear its bells.  The Grotesques are hundreds of carvings both inside and outside of the building: distorted human faces, demons, fantastical creatures and other horrors intended to scare away evil spirits. Some of them are intriguing, others are very rude!  This woodwind quartet (from 2018) includes five musical grotesques in one continuous movement.  Grotesques is published by UYMP.

Rendez-vous is a saxophone quartet, composed for the Delta Sax Quartet's 'Project Flix', in which they perform live to silent film.  Lelouche's miniature masterpiece is not exactly silent, but it offers a 'short ride in a fast machine' through the streets of Paris.  It was first performed by the DSQ at the Chapel FM Arts Centre in Leeds, in June 2019.  Hold tight and mind the pigeons!

Rough Cut (2015), for violin, borrows the opening motif from my 'Strike' but the music develops in very different directions.  The title is derived from a stage in film editing when material is moved around until the correct sequence is found to convey the narrative, a process which mirrors my compositional technique here.  It was first performed at Wilton's Music Hall by Peter Sheppard Skaerved in February 2016.  Rough Cut is published by UYMP.

Jump Cut (2017) - for clarinet - is a companion piece to Rough Cut; a jump cut is a type of film editing which gives the effect of jumping forwards in time, fracturing the duration to shift the audience ahead and abruptly interrupting the regular passing of time, as opposed to the more seamless 'dissolve' which is used more extensively.  Jump Cut was first performed in February 2018 by Zoe Fagerhaug, to whom the piece is dedicated. Jump Cut is published by UYMP.

Rude Mechanicals is a trombone quartet, dating from 2016.  There's a Shakespearean theme, firstly through the reference to the rustic characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream and secondly in the choral which ends this pieces which is derived from the setting of words from The Tempest ('We are such stuff as dreams are made on' ) by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Rude Mechanicals is dedicated to the memory of Michael Antrobus.

Swan for saxophone quartet was composed in 2011 and first performed in the Late Music concert series in York.  Swans, genus Cygnus, are birds of the family Anatidae, which also includes geese and ducks. The word swan is derived from Old English swan, akin to the German Schwan and Dutch zwaan and Swedish svan, in turn derived from Indo-European root  swen (to sound, to sing), whence Latin derives sonus (sound).
Velocity (2012)​ is a sister piece to my earlier string quartet Vertigo.  It makes use of some of the same melodic and harmonic gestures but ultimately takes the music in a different direction.  The 'narrative' of the music is discontinuous: throughout the piece the music shifts into 'deja-vu' or 'flashback' mode, rather like a film maker uses similar techniques, to disturb the natural flow of the music and to develop non-linear connections between different elements of the musical line.

Strike (for flute, bass clarinet, violin, cello and piano) was composed over the winter of 2014-15 and was first performed in April 2015 in Hong Kong. My music shares its title with an early film of Eisenstein; in the film he develops ideas of 'montage' for the first time and some of those cinematic techniques are explored in my music.  Strike is published by UYMP.

Vertigo for string quartet was composed in 2010 for first performance at the 'Partners in Suspense' conference which explored the collaboration between Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann.  It takes a fragment of Herrmann's film score as its motivation, heard close to the end of the piece.
Breathless (2016) - for brass quintet - was inspired by Cornelia Parker’s sculpture which hangs in the V&A: some fifty old brass instruments, crushed flat.  Breathless is in two movements, reflecting some of the dualities which are evident in Parker's art: light/dark, silence/noise, upper class/lower class, North/South, death/resurrection etc. The first, quick movement is called ‘Unit’ and the contrasting second is entitled ‘Aria’.

Batubulan is a village in Bali, famous for the stone carvings which line its roads - the name roughly translates as 'moon stone'.  This piano solo (from the spring of 2015) was influenced not only by the monumental quality of the carvings but also by the cyclic Balinese calendar which identifies key dates for rituals and temple ceremonies. The pianist here is Jin Hyung Lim, who gave the premiere performance in York.

Holly  - a short 'toccata' for trombone and piano - was composed in 2011 for James Stretton and Iain Jackson to include in their 'Brassy Christmas' project; it was first performed in Shropshire in December of that year.  Jim and Iain have gone on to give many performances all around the UK.
Rendez-vous

© 2012 - 2019 by David Lancaster

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