• Peter Dickinson
  • Merseyside Echoes (1988)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)
  • 3(2pic)3(ca)33(cbn)4.4.2+btbn.14percstr
  • 11 min

Programme Note

Several of my larger works have had connections with popular musical idioms. For the Organ Concerto (1971) I wrote a blues song and for the Piano Concerto (1987-84) I wrote a classical piano rag. This time a commission from Liverpool has led me to the early 1960s, a period which for millions of people was and still is thought of as the era of the Beatles. In Merseyside Echoes I have tried to bring into the orchestra some of the sound world of Rock 'n' Roll before multi-tracking and studio treatment extended the live performance beyond recognition. The work contains two pop songs, which I have written in early 1960s style: they are not sung, but various soloists from the orchestra take the lead until each song gradually involves everybody. The songs are presented in a direct way but they are enclosed by violent fanfares which leave echoes behind them. Each time the fanfares occur the echoes get longer and finally threaten to get out of hand. At this moment the work concludes with a final burst of pop songs - both of them riotously superimposed. The layout of the whole work is easy to follow:

Fanfares and Echoes I
Pop Song I
Fanfares and Echoes II
Pop Song II
Fanfares and Echoes III
Pop Songs I and II together

There are a few personal connections which link Merseyside Echoes to the 1960s for me, and to the Liverpool area. I quote from a song I wrote at that period and before that I spent my childhood in the North-West having been born at Lytham St Anne's. But above all Merseyside Echoes contains evocations of what the world knows as the Liverpool sound cast in the form of a tribute to the fine orchestra which has flourished for so long in the same city.

© Peter Dickinson

‘An endearing piece lasting only 12 minutes, Merseyside Echoes is filled with nostalgia for the idealistic Beatles era of the 1960s, and it has what seems to be rare in much contemporary music – a sweetly diatonic flavour. It contains three rousing, but violent fanfares and two pop songs written by Dickinson…we have a sonic panorama in which echoes are created as the fanfares fade away…The pop songs are jolly or pensive by turn and the whole score, superbly realised by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under Barry Wordsworth, pulsates with life.’

Neil Tierney, Daily Telegraph, 8 December 1988