McCabe at 70
27th April 2009
This year John McCabe celebrates his 70th Birthday.
In recognition of this, the BBC Proms feature McCabe's music this summer:
Prom 67, September 5
Horn Concerto (Rainforest IV)
Pre-concert talk: Stephen Johnson in conversation with composer John McCabe about the process of composition and his Horn Concerto, with musicians from the Royal College of Music.
PCM 16, August 30
Sonata (Study No 12)
BBC commission: World Premiere
McCabe’s Horn Concerto was premiered in Cardiff in 2007 by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and soloist David Pyatt, who join forces for its London premiere at the Proms. The composer describes it as contrasting the urban chic of the french horn as used in the 1950s and 1960s jazz and the evocation of a spacious, mist-filled rainforest.
His latest piano work (to be performed by Ashley Wass as part of Radio 3's New Generation Artist weekend ) is part of a series of Studies dedicated to composers he admires. ‘What I love about Tippett’s piano music, and why this piece is dedicated to him’, he explains, ‘is his ability to conjure up wonderful textures and exploit the piano’s resources fully. His writing is not really idiomatic, but it doesn’t matter – the essence of the music is so powerful’.
‘It will be a single movement, and the technical aspect of it will be compositional, i.e. trying to write something resembling a Piano Sonata. The late Robert Simpson was always trying to persuade me to write such a piece and I always said I couldn't, but it suddenly occurred to me that a one-movement Sonata would be a delight to do, so this will be it.’