Jeremy Dale Roberts-A quintet emerges

Posted on February 24th, 2012 by


Jeremy Dale Roberts is, without question, one of our great composers. LINK TO FILM Workshop sessions, London November 2012 Jeremy Dale Roberts-String Quintet(Workshop , Royal Academy of Music, Concert Room. Audio Rip from Video LOFI!)Kreutzer Quartet with Bridget McRae Part 1

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Part 2

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 The composer writes:  ‘This Quintet was originally intended as a tribute to my teacher, Priaulx Rainier, whose centenary fell in 2004. It was to have been performed at St Ives, her home for many years, which had also been the holiday home of Virginia Woolf. So ideas from ‘To the Lighthouse’ (based on St Ives) fed into the piece. (Many years previously I had planned another string quintet, in which as here the viola was to play a dominant role. This was to be called ‘Marina’ in homage to the great Russian poet Tsvetayeva). So already a number of indomitable ‘saints’ were at hand ready to be impersonated by the viola, that most androgenous of instruments. But during the long process of conception and composition when so much was provisional another strand came into play, inspired by the Frieze of Life sequence of paintings by Edvard Munch, notably the ‘Voice’ and the wonderful ‘Dancers by the Shore’ in Prague. This was almost inevitable, given the background of the sea and the almost Bergmann-esque persona of the individual woman. But it would be a mistake to read the piece as ‘programmatic’: quite as stimulating as these ideas may have been, the setting up of relationships – pairs and trios, solos, tuttis – gave rise to musical material. The work is in two parts separated by an interval. The first part may be performed on its own’. Jeremy Dale Roberts-E mail to PSS February 2012

Morgan Goff and Bridget MacRae in Rehearsal. 7th November 2012

Jeremy Dale Roberts-’The Dancer on the Shore’ 2nd Movement ‘Moments of Being’ Compilation of rehearsal material

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Kreutzer Quartet (Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Mihailo Trandafilovski, Morga Goff, Neil Heyde) with Bridget MacRae-Cello

 ‘Nothing stirred in the drawing-room or in the dining-room or on the staircase. Only through the rusty hinges and swollen sea-moistened woodwork certain airs, detached from the body of the wind (the house was ramshackle after all) crept round corners and ventured indoors.Almost one might imagine them, as they entered the drawing-room questioning and wondering, toying with the flap of hanging wall-paper,asking, would it hang much longer, when would it fall? Then smoothly brushing the walls, they passed on musingly as if asking the red and yellow roses on the wall-paper whether they would fade, and questioning(gently, for there was time at their disposal) the torn letters in the wastepaper basket, the flowers, the books, all of which were now open to them and asking, Were they allies? Were they enemies? Howlong would they endure?’ (‘Time Passes’ Virginia Woolf ‘To the Lighthouse’)

Jeremy Dale Roberts Quintet MS 2012

Over the past few years, he has spoken to us about the major work that he has been planning, a string quintet. It is now appearing, the fruit of the deep thought that characterises his working process and output. 22nd May 2012 An hour with the great composer and wonderful friend, Jeremy Dale Roberts, discussing his new quintet, ‘The Dancer on the Shore’. This extraordinary work, which has been some years in the making, is, uniquely, conceived to frame the interval of a concert. It is, as the composer freely admits, a deeply felt, intensely personal work, so both of us were concerned as how best to place it in a programme. I am fascinated by compsers’ instincts as to how their works can dialogue with others’. Michael Hersch, for instance, has come up with a wonderful, challenging framework for his new quartet , in conversation, it you will, with Purcell (arr. Mangeot) Fantasies and a Giacanto Scelsi Quartet. It transpired that Jeremy and I had the same concern, which was that his work be placed in an meaningful, but elegant context. Jeremy spoke of a certain ‘insouciance’ , that was necessary to frame his new piece, of ‘great style, more than depth’. The conversation veered off to Hugh Casson, and I found that I was thinking about Charles-Alexandre Calonne, finance minister to Louis XVI, and Giovanni Battista Viotti. Madame de Staël said, “Everyone believed that [Calonne] was a man of superior talents, because he treated the most things so lightly”. Clearly, Calonne impressed by applying the maxim of Glissez, n’appuyez pas! (Slide! Don’t press!), to the maximum. Elisabeth Vigée-le Brun was enamoured of Calonne’s wit and charisma, as her radiant portrait makes clear. The Harmonicon recalled that, “One day… the minister Calonne asked [Viotti] which violin was the most true, -‘That’, replied he, with a significant look, ‘ which is the least false.’ As ever, Viotti’s conversational lightness of touch, enabled him to deliver a barb, with the surest aim, and the least risk. Viotti’s command of the bon mot, of ridicule, was second to none. This seemed to be what we were both talking about, and instantly, the same composer leapt to mind, Boccherini, the epitome of this quality, and the non plus ultra of elegance, of style. So a programme has emerge, framing the diptych of Jeremy’s quintet with Boccherini Quintets. As ever, the conversation swung around our shared passions, from Schoenberg to Borges, from Janacek to Colonna. Jeremy talked passionately of the problem of perception when the inspirations which have provided the impetus or a tapestry of backdrops for a work of art, become perceived as being in some way integral to it. “It took me such a long time to write the quintet, it was such a long time coming, that I simply gave voice to it; I have no real understanding of how or why it emerged-although I may have a clearer sense of the coup de foudre which initiated it.” We then spoke of the role of the viola in the quintet. The viola ‘dies’ and quite literally, leaves the stage in the first part. It then returns, in some way in the second part. I had to ask, what the impetus for this death and revenant character? Jeremy by talking about the structure of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse: “ ..in the second part, after the ‘intermission’, the mother is dead, something has changed, and we have to view the world in the light of this change, this absence –“ (I found myself remembering  Jörg Widmann’s first work for Quartet, ‘Absences)-“there’s an Intermède, the creaking of chairs, and then afterwards something has changed.” Of course, the chat drifted to how much that is to be found all over Woolf, in The Waves, or Orlando, who we thought we new, but, different, in a dream like ‘the enemy that you killed’ in Wilfred Owen’s Strange Meeting, or the dream-manifestation of ‘Polia’ in Hypnerotomachia Polyphiliae. Every time I am able to spend time with a great artist like Dale Roberts, I am reminded of what it is, perhaps, too easy to forget; that it is these people who, like Traherne, feel ‘a vigour in all my sense’, that make our work filled with light and inspiration. (23rd May 2012)

Edvard Munch-The Voice

On the 23rd February, he wrote me the following:

‘This Quintet was originally intended as a tribute to my teacher, Priaulx Rainier, whose centenary fell in 2004. It was to have been performed at St Ives, her home for many years, which had also been the holiday home of Virginia Woolf. So ideas from ‘To the Lighthouse’ (based on St Ives) fed into the piece. (Many years previously I had planned another string quintet, in which as here the viola was to play a dominant role. This was to be called ‘Marina’ in hommage to the great Russian poet Tsvetaeva). So already a number of indomitable ‘saints’ were at hand ready to be impersonated by the viola, that most androgenous of instruments. But during the long process of conception and composition when so much was provisional another strand came into play, inspired by the Frieze of Life sequence of paintings by Edvard Munch, notably the ‘Voice’ and the wonderful ‘Dancers by the Shore’ in Prague. This was almost inevitable, given the background of the sea and the almost Bergmann-esque persona of the individual woman. But it would be a mistake to read the piece as ‘programmatic’: quite as stimulating as these ideas may have been, the setting up of relationships – pairs and trios, solos, tuttis – gave rise to musical material. The work is in two parts separated by an interval. The first part may be performed on its own’.

The whole work looks likely to be premiered in the autumn. So this is a ‘heads up’. A major work is appearing.

Edvard Munch-’Dance on the Shore’