Programme and further notes

 

 

Hoquetus David (1360) by Guillaume de Machaut (arr. Stead 2016)

 

During the middle of the 14th century, William de la Pole established a hospital on the site of the

present Charterhouse, in 1350, known as the Maison Dieu.

 

Contemporaneously Guillaume de Machaut of Reims (1300 –1377), who was a poet and composer, wrote

his Hoquetus David (arr. 1360). It is unusual in that it is not scored for voices, allowing performers to

choose the instrumentation. In this arrangement John Stead has scored it for small organ and 'cello.

Well into the 15th century, Machaut's poetry was greatly admired and imitated by other poets,

including Geoffrey Chaucer.

 

Hoquetus David – (1360) Its name is derived from the underlying melodic line: the embellishment on

the name of 'David' from the 'Alleluia Nativitas' ascribed to Perotin. The tenor ( in this arr. the ‘cello)

contains four isorythmic statements of the melody.

 

In this arrangement for small organ and ‘cello, a combination of 8’ flute, and 8’ and 4” flutes ( in the

swell box), and the ‘cello ( using a special bowing technique ), allow the lines of the hocket to speak

clearly. The rhythmic double-hocketing, often complex, is more clearly heard at a tempo of

somewhat slower than some other performances found online and without additional percussion.

The technique remains in common use in contemporary music ( Louis Andriessen's Hoketus), popular

music ( funk, stereo panning, the work of Robert Fripp )

 

© J.S.

 

Further notes:

The hocket, a device commonly employed in medieval and early Renaissance music, involves the

interruption of a melodic line with rests and the distribution of a melody's notes between two or more

instruments or voices. The term is etymologically related to the word "hiccup," and a hocket can

indeed often sound like a rhythmic disruption, or hiccup. Most often the hocket is found in the midst of

a vocal motet or chanson. There are a few instrumental hockets, however, one of which is the

Hoquetus David -- Guillaume de Machaut's only instrumental composition, which likely dates from the

1360s. Why the work was written is unknown, although it may have been somehow associated with the

coronation of Charles V in Reims in 1364; Charles had spent some time at Machaut's house three years

earlier and was one of his several patrons.

 

The work's title derives from the source of the tenor part of this three-part piece, the melisma on

"David" from Machaut's Alleluia verse "Nativitas gloriose virginis." Machaut does not specify the

instruments to be used in his Hoquetus, which is among the earliest known polyphonic instrumental

pieces. In sound it resembles a fanfare, with the alternating notes giving something of the effect of an

antiphonal call-and-response. The angular quality of the piece, and its occasional dissonance, has

inspired several modern composers, including Peter Maxwell Davies, who made an arrangement of the

work for soprano and ensemble in 1971.

 

© Chris Morrison

 

Three Voluntaries for organ (1972) by Peter Maxwell Davies

 

These are all arrangements of sixteenth-century Scottish church music, beginning with Psalm 124 by

David Peebles, which gains an athletic counterpoint of Davies's own. Then comes John Fethy's O God

Abufe played straight, and finally an anonymous motet, All Sons of Adam, again infiltrated by a modern

voice.

 

© Paul Griffiths

 

Unlike Maxwell Davies’ other works for solo organ (the Fantasia from O Magnum Mysterium of 1960 and

the Sonata of 1982), which are substantial, virtuoso concert works, the Three Organ Voluntaries are short

and fairly simple and were composed to be played in the Kirk in Stromness. Early music has formed the

basis of a significant part of Maxwell Davies’ output, the originals serving as the departure point for new

interpretations, and such works may be grouped into three distinct categories; straightforward,

re-scorings, subtle transformation (where the original is still clearly recognisable), and re-compositions

(where the original has been wholly assimilated); The first two Voluntaries fall into the second category,

the last into the third.

 

Psalm 124 takes a motet on the famous Old 124th and overlays a wide-ranging obbligato marked “high

fluted, clear and bell-like”. O God Abufe states the hymn tune over ostinato figures for the left hand and

pedals. In All Sons of Adam the texture and basic structure of the original are retained, but the rest is

pure Maxwell Davies: he revels in the sound of the Devil – that “forbidden” interval, the augmented

fourth.

 

© Graham Mackie 1984.

 

PASSACAGLIA - for small organ and cello - Stanislaw Hansel

Autumn 2016

 

A micro theme in two sections is presented on the organ while the cello begins to sound a slow,

mostly repeating, line of notes, rather in the manner of a ground bass such as used in a Passacaglia. This

line of notes is continued against each of the subsequent four variations. This whole section of the music

is then transposed down a tone and played in retrograde.

 

The organ part, consisting as it does of micro music, continues in my line of thinking along terms of

presenting much musical information in a very short space of time; the repeated note rhythms

employ fractional notations ( for example an eleventh of a crotchet may be followed by a ninth, followed

by a tenth as well as rhythms written out spatially and therefore of less precisely notated durations ) and

will be heard in many cases as note repetitions of uneven lengths. As a human player it is not possible to

define these rhythms exactly but the whole effect should be one of an energetic organ part against a

rarely changing, slow moving cello part. I might add that the concept of micro music orginated in a piano

sonata I wrote in 1995 where notes are divided into tiny and irregular lengths. The result of putting so

much musical information into a very short space of time led to a work of considerable tensions.

 

Some of my more recent thinking comes out of work I have been doing after a visit to Damien Hirst’s

gallery in London where I noted a beautiful Book of Psalms where he presents one of his kaleidoscopic

pieces on butterfly wings alongside each psalm. I have similarly worked through many short and energetic

pieces which I call psalms. Indeed the Passacaglia is the second movement of a sonata for cello and small

organ of which the first movement, already drafted to a large extent, will consist ofsuch a ‘psalm’

approach.

 

Peterborough UK 10.1.2017

 

Cycles and rounds for PMD (2016) by John Stead

 

Cycle and Rounds for PMD is written as a tombeau for Peter Maxwell Davies who was Master of the Queens

Musik and died at the beginning of 2016 His early interest in systems such as 'magic squares', is

exemplified in his " Ave Maris Stella " of 1975, where he modulated the plainchant Ave Maris Stella through the

magic square of the Moon. Cycles and Rounds for PMD, uses similar compositional devices to create a

series of free flowing but interlocking pitch systems using the name - PMDAVIES ( B-F-D-A-A-B-B-E ).

The sounds in the piece are percussive - mainly bells and gongs (inspired by another of Maxwell Davies'

pieces - Turris Campanarum Sonantium, written for the distinguished percussionist, Stomu Yamashta)

which are transformed, illuminated and extended using the computer. About 2/3rds the way through,

small bells usher in the final slow ceremony…

The piece is acousmatic, and is heard through a 4 channel amplification system arranged to distribute the

sounds around the audience.

 

© J S. 2016.

 

‘In a Lakeland Garden’ (2016) for 'cello and piano/sampler keyboard by Nigel Bartram

 

For my 50th Birthday my very good friends to whom this work is dedicated took me for a holiday in a

Lakeland valley near Seathwaite. The silence (lack of human noise) and prevalence of nature was very

striking. During the stay I recorded myself playing the cello in the garden, recorded water, birds and

other sounds. Back in the studio I 'tuned' these sounds to notes from the tempered harmonic series from

the note D.

These sampled sounds (now heard played live on a keyboard in the piece) were the starting point for a

piece for 'cello and piano with the keyboard part also played by the pianist. This elegiac piece is written

as a series of short interconnected sections also based on the D harmonic series, though this is freely

expanded at times particularly in the piano part.

 

The inspiration for the piece is 'Song of Songs' (1996) for 'cello and electronics by Karen Tanaka which is

also centred around the pitch D and its harmonics. The sound of the 'cello in Tanaka's work is gentle and

tender and the melodic line is coloured by the electronics; I have similarly tried to used the sampled

sounds to colour the 'cello and piano lines. Unlike the Tanaka piece there is not predominantly one

mood: the cello and piano comment on the activity within the natural environment, finally disappearing

'into the hills' at the conclusion of the work.

 

The work is the latest in my preoccupation as a composer to use a collage of recorded sounds to evoke

and recall a time and place. The live 'cello part comments on itself played in the quiet of the Lakeland

garden, surrounded by sounds of the natural world ( and occasional other intrusions!).

 

© Nigel Bartram ( 2016)

 

DUET 1 for ‘cello and computer (2017) by John Stead

 

The development of interfaces in music technology has come a long way over the past 50 years, to the

point where live electronics, and in this piece, live transformation of sound, can be controlled in a

gestural way via ‘control surfaces’ such as LEMUR and software tools such as INA’s - GRM Tools.

 

The score is a coloured graphic score on 3 sheets of A4 card and combines text instructions as well as

graphical symbols requiring interpretation. Some parameters remain ambiguous requiring additional

decisions to be made by the performers.

 

Page 1 ushers sounds in from the silence – scrapings, rustlings (a continuing deeply affecting resonance of

the opening of Jonathan Harvey’s 4th. String Quartet.) eventually extend from the spectral content of

the sounds from the cello, adding specific pitched material on the way …

 

Page 2 … continues these sounds and pitches via other playing methods, which are now selected,

captured, slowed down, magnified, sped up into swarms of little sounds … each sound played by the

‘cellist is chosen in collaboration with the performer of the electronics.

 

Page 3 is a nod at the ‘agrandissement asymetrique’ mechanism used by Olivier Messiaen. The descriptive

sub title: trajectoires asymetrique is the clue as well as evoking another French composer, Henri Dutilleux

( both composers much admired by Nigel Bartram the cellist for whom the DUET suite is written ) …

 

© J.S. 2017

 

Song of Songs for cello and electronics (1996) by Karen Tanaka

 

Composer note:

 

The title comes from the Song of Solomon of the Old Testament, which is a beautiful song of love.

It begins as follows: The song of songs, which is Solomon's.

 

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love

is better than wine.

Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is

as ointment poured forth,

therefore do the virgins love thee.

 

I have attempted to project this sensual song of love onto the sound of cello and computer. My intention

was to weave color and scent into the sound while blending the ancient story and today's technology. The

sound of cello is consistently gentle and tender. This work was commissioned by Yutaka Fujishima and the

Xebec Hall. It was first performed by Ryoichi Fujimori in Mito, Japan, on 10th November 1996.

 

© Karen Tanaka

 

 

THREADS ...

N.B. to J.S.

An interesting one is the tritone which is a diabolus quip from PMD as you say, but in the sensuous world of Tanaka (and in my work) a D to G# is part of the harmonic series (11th partial above fundamental tone D).

Another thread is perhaps the presence of something else within the pieces which is more or less overt. In the hoquet the tenor theme is there but offset by the rhythmic hoqueting, in Stan's piece the ground in the cello is obscured by a related but fast moving music almost in a different time continuum. In your cycles and rounds the name PMDavies is hidden within a ceremonial Tombeau, and 16th century church themes are obscured in the 3 voluntaries by PMD.

In my piece sounds from the Lakeland garden environment emerge and disappear. Only in the Tanaka do we seemingly have nothing additional within, only the imagined (not actual) 'song of Solomon'

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