Two new piano studies written as part of my Masters course will be workshopped alongside those of other Masters students by Richard Casey, winner of the British Contemporary Piano Competition and founder-member of contemporary music ensemble Psappha, on Monday 14 December. The studies explore aspects of time and harmony, demanding traditional virtuosity of speed and agility, but also less extroverted skills in fragile use of colour and resonance.
Written in June Notturno/Abschiedslied I, for solo piano, was premiered by Olivia Jageurs on 26 November as part of the New Music North West Festival (23-27 November) in a Vaganza concert celebrating Peter Maxwell Davies’s new role as patron of Manchester University Music Society.
Books of Moses, a stereo acousmatic work written last year at the NOVARS Research Centre, received its public premiere at the MANTIS Festival this autumn in a concert including works by Alexis Guneratne, Richard Scott, Mark Pilkington and Diana Simpson. The weekend festival featured curated concerts from guest composers Denis Smalley and Theodore Lotis alongside works by MANTIS composers based at the NOVARS Research Centre, diffused on MANTIS’s custom-made 48-loudspeaker sound diffusion system.
I have been listening a lot to this motet, Adesto dolori meo, Deus, by the late-Renaissance Flemish composer Alexander Utendal recently. The rising chromatic line that forms the basis for the opening imitative entries is mind-blowing in its deployment, displaying freshness and ingenuity despite being nearly 500 years old. By the time the soprano reaches her top D and the harmony reaches its widest point, I am always struck by the feeling of something having gradually come towards me, emerging from a mist. Utendal seems to be a relatively unknown figure, but there are a few internet resources, including: videos on YouTube of Oltremontano and the Capilla Flamenca performing some of his works; some people have helpfully reproduced Hellmut Federhofer’s Grove Dictionary of Music article here and here (Flemish musicologist Ignace Bossuyt disagrees with Grove’s date of birth, suggesting c. 1543-5 as correct); and if you search the old Google you’ll pull up the odd other thing, including a few things in Dutch.
This recording is of my father’s group The Art of Music, a group of (usually) six singers living and working in Luxembourg who have now been going for over fifteen years with varying personnel and who specialise in the performance of music from the Renaissance and Middle Ages.
Alexander Utendal Adesto dolori meo, Deus
The Art of Music (Flash Compact Editioun FCE 209/504)
Robert Guy’s final recital as an undergraduate at the University of Manchester took place at 14:00 on Thursday 28 May in the Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, repeating the programme he gave in Wrexham two weeks previously: Max Bruch’s Romanze, Op. 85, and Paul Hindemith’s Viola Sonata in F, Op. 11 No. 4, accompanied by Harvey Davies, sandwiching the second performance of my new piece for solo viola, Gaza Cantos.