Commissioned by LIFEM for the 2023 London International Festival of Early Music.

First performed on Thursday 9 November 2023 by Jane Chapman, at St Michael and All Angels Church, Blackheath, as part of the London International Festival of Early Music (LIFEM) 2023.

  • hpd
  • Harpsichord
  • 11 min

Programme Note

When the London International Festival of Early Music came to me with a commission to write a solo harpsichord piece for Jane Chapman, they asked me to relate the new piece to Byrd, as it’s the 400th anniversary of his death, this year.

Jane introduced me to Byrd’s arrangement of Dowland’s wonderful Pavana Lachrymae (‘Pavan of tears’) – a piece of many layers but simple and elegant beauty.

I have taken the first page and run, in some places, quite wild with it. The opening theme stays much the same but I have coloured in the harmony more intensely. The first variation Turn Again, focuses on the notated trills and turns in the original theme. Next, Byrd flies to India and I put his original theme into North Indian Bhairavi and Purvi modes – this move was inspired by Jane Chapman’s award-winning ‘The Oriental Miscellany’ album with transcriptions of Indian vocal music for harpsichord.

The rollercoaster ride that is Recklessly (still in India) continues in those modes, taking all the semi-quaver and demisemiquaver runs (in retrograde) from Byrd’s original and accompanying them with a melody in the Kaida tabla rhythm. The next variation, William in Love, is a complete contrast – the original melody is given a very romantic treatment, drifting dreamily through many key changes.

Passing notes takes the quaver passing notes in Byrd’s arrangement and gives them a lilting life of their own with quirky touches such as Byrd’s original ornamentation transforming into bird song.

Finally, in Maestoso, the original theme with even richer harmony and grand fanfare-style rhythms. A brief recap through some of the variations’ features brings us to a joyous conclusion – hence, Tears, no more.

I am hugely grateful to LIFEM for giving me the opportunity to work with Jane Chapman and to Jane, herself, for being such an inspiring collaborator.

Roxanna Panufnik, 19 September 2023

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