Recording David Matthews-Outtakes-22 10 15

Posted on October 22nd, 2015 by


Recording David Matthews-Outtakes-22 10 15

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin (Girolamo Amati 1629)

1629 Girolamo Amati. Without doubt, one of the richest, most expressive instruments it has been my privilege to play

1629 Girolamo Amati. Without doubt, one of the richest, most expressive instruments it has been my privilege to play

Engineer-Jonathan Haskell

St John the Baptist Church, Aldbury

Paganini Fantasia

The Paganini Fantasy is a Liszt-ean ‘paraphrase’ on the Paganini’s 2nd violin Concerto, preserving something of the feeling of an extended orchestral ‘tutti’ followed by a concertante outburst. This first section is played muted; in performance, the violinist plays with the back to the audience until this moment. The piece was inspired by, and premiered on Paganini’s extraordinary ‘del Gesu’ violin, which he called ‘Il cannone’. It is kept under great security, in the town hall in Genoa (where I premiered this piece, at the 2007 ‘Paganiniana’ Festival). At the centre of the fantasy is an extraordinarily intense ‘fugato’, based on chromatic material from the orchestral sections of Paganini’s concerto. This perorates with truly Liszt-ean ‘Dies Irae’ outburst-a theme which Paganini never used, but which a number of composers, most notably Rachmaninov, used in reference to him. The piece includes some of the most extreme virtuoso demands in the repertoire-hand crunching B Major runs in thirds, melody accompanied by left-hand pizzicato, extreme use of tenth and demanding ‘up-bow staccato’. Paganini would have approved, I think.

Dantan 'charge' of Paganini ca. 1831 (photo PSS 220211)

Dantan ‘charge’ of Paganini ca. 1831 (photo PSS 220211)

 

Album Leaf for Sally

This exquisite piece in C minor/Major is dedicated to the composer’s friend and publisher, Sally Cavender. David is capable of writing, and indeed does, write some of the most complex polyphonic solo music in the repertoire. Pieces like this are proof of the artist-that simple wielding a limited melodic brush, he is capable of writing the most touching, and musical demanding pieces, which achieve great beauty with the simplest means. 

David Matthews on the train to record, with the 1970 manuscript of the 1st Quartet

David Matthews on the train to record, with the 1970 manuscript of the 1st Quartet

Two Chants

David’s two ‘Chants’ require the played to sing and hum in counterpoint to two and three part choral writing. The voice part is set so that it snakes around the tessitura of the violin writing, resulting in strange overtones and ‘beats’ , especially where dissonances result. There is a relationship to Peter Sculthorpe’s classic ‘Alone’ for whistling violinist, which can be heard on this website. Sculthorpe was an important influence on and friend to Matthews. 

The National Anthem (arr: David Matthews)

The ‘National Anthem’ was inspired, in part, by Stravinsky’s bizarre, but little known, arrangement of ‘la Marseillaise’, for solo violin. David’s reading confounds the expectations of player and audience. The harmonic gambit used to achieve this, is a recurring chain of major/minor sevenths, balanced with careful voice leading, instructing the player to ‘break’ the counterpoint, away from the melody. 

Not Farewell

Another deceptively simple piece, nearly entirely free of chordal writing and in mid-low register. Like much of David’s music, it affectionately doffs the cap to his fellow composers. You will here an echo of ‘There’s no place for us’ (Bernstein-West Side Story) and Beethoven’s Op 81a Sonata ‘Les Adieux – ‘not farewell’, indeed!

Beginning of 'Les Adieux' Sonata-Beethoven Op 81a

Beginning of ‘Les Adieux’ Sonata-Beethoven Op 81a

Birthday Piece for Richard

This tiny piece was written as a birthday card for our mutual friend, the photographer Richard Bram. It is almost entirely composed from the notes which can be extracted from Richard’s name. Go to LINK to find out more!

My analysis of David Matthews' 'birthday piece' for Richard Bram

My analysis of David Matthews’ ‘birthday piece’ for Richard Bram

Song Thrush Fragment

This fragment was written for me to play at the Galeria Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City. David is a keen bird watcher, and the avian kingdom finds its way into many of his works. This fragment proved to have a second life-recurring, in toto in his 12th Quartet, in the part written for me!

Peter playing Nam Joo Paik at the Tamayo Gallery, Mexico City 2004

Peter playing Nam Joo Paik at the Tamayo Gallery, Mexico City 2004

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