1. Bar(tik)tok
2. Blurry Bagatelle
3. Song without words
4. Haydn's stolen rhythm

  • pno
  • 13 min

Programme Note

Homages to Bartok, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Haydn.

​Blurry Bagatelle was premiered by Tim Horton at St. Andrew's Church on 25th August at the 2017 Presteigne Festival. Stolen Rhythm was premiered by Matthew Schellhorn at Robinson College, Cambridge in 2012. Song Without Words was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and premiered by Andrew Zolinsky on the radio in 2009.
Bar(tik)tok was premiered by Thalia Myers on 5th November 2016 at the Britten Theatre, Royal College of Music.

Blurry Bagatelle is inspired by Beethoven's Op. 126 No. 5 (Quasi allegretto). In my homage I simply took the motives and gestures that appealed to me from Beethoven's Bagatelle and composed a little piece with the memory of them fresh in my mind. The dialogue between the two hands in Beethoven's opening is mimicked in the beginning of my piece, but the melodic range is squashed into a much tighter space, and the blurriness of the title is created with the use of chords in which all notes are sustained by the pedal, but only some notes sustained by the fingers (revealing simpler harmonies when the pedal is released, as if focusing a camera lens). The middle section, in a homage to George in his 60th year, sets the letters of his name as the melody.

​Song Without Words was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 in 2009 for the bicentenary of Mendelssohn's birth and premiered by Andrew Zolinsky on BBC Radio 3. My piece is very closely modeled on Mendelssohn's Op.102 no.2: I spent many hours playing through all of them and the musical lines and phrasing of this Song really struck me. I tried to emulate Mendelssohn's musical line, which seems to stretch in one phrase over the entire piece, in my own piece.

I was delighted to be asked to write Stolen Rhythm for Matthew Schellhorn, particularly as in 2009 I'd written a short piano piece for Mendelssohn's anniversary also. When I am asked to write pieces inspired by certain composers, it always makes me realise how little of their music I actually really know, so I promptly embarked on a Haydn Piano Sonata-playing marathon, which I enjoyed immensely. I wanted to write something fast and jolly, since Mendelssohn's tribute had been slow and (hopefully) rather beautiful. I became particularly obsessed with the third movement of Haydn's Sonata in E flat major (Hoboken XVI:45): the way it continually moves forward with a boundless energy and wit still thrills me. It seemed to me that it was the rhythmic content of the movement that gave it these properties, so I decided to shamelessly steal the rhythm hook line and sinker, and simply put my notes to it. Save for a few 11/8 bars (where I've removed one semiquaver from the usual 3/4 bar), the rhythmic content of this piece is entirely Haydn's, running from beginning to end exactly as his sonata movement does. I then played with various transmutations of the notes B, A, D, D, G (generating lots of different sets of pitches by inverting and transposing them etc.) to get the harmonic and melodic content.

© Cheryl Frances-Hoad, 2015

Bar(tik)tok (2013) A rustic snapshot - dealing in Balkan rhythms and modes, finely detailed articulation (every slur, dot, tenuto and accent essential to the imagery), terraced dynamics, and vibrant contrasts of pesante and leggierotouch. What the speech rhythms of this music might be, if any, go unsaid, but rests and breaths are keenly placed, neither too short nor too long. The re-transition, deftly turned, slips in at the Golden Section point.

© Ates Orga




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