Engaging recital of obscure, quirky music on saxophone and harp at St Andrew’sBy Lindis Taylor, 11/04/2018Duo Eolienne: Genevieve Davidson (saxophone) and Michelle Velvin (harp)
Music by Debussy, Yusef Lateef, Britten, Bernard Andres, Satie, William Alwyn
St Andrew’s on The Terrace
Wednesday 11 April 12:15 pm
Here was a recital that seemed to fit the space acoustically and offered a range of mostly unfamiliar music that was yet approachable; many of the audience might well be happy to hear these pieces again.
The first piece was by a sixteen-year-old Debussy: Beau soir (beautiful evening). The words of the poem by Paul Bourget were printed and we were left to assume that the score, presumably voice and piano, had been arranged for saxophone and harp. In a shy, gentle triple rhythm it produced a peaceful mood as the poet employs the image of a stream flowing to the sea suggesting life ending in the grave. It worked well for and was played charmingly by both instruments.
Yusef Lateef’s piece, Romance for soprano saxophone and harp, was actually written for these instruments. It was a longer piece: I was able to tell it had finished only when the next piece, Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, for solo oboe (saxophone) began. Its moods varied: evocative, fanciful, imaginative.
Two of Britten’s Six Metamorphoses dealt with Pan and Phaeton. Obviously, the saxophone was well suited to Pan, and the impression of Phaeton who came to grief by riding on the sun’s chariot may well have been an accurate picture of that interesting bit of Greek mythology; they were slight though beautifully crafted pieces.
French composer and harpist Bernard Andrès obviously pursues the classical music rather than popular or jazz tradition. I have the impression that he is a major figure in the contemporary harp fraternity; he wrote a large number of solo harp Preludes and judging by the two he played (nos 12 and 14) owes much to the traditions of Chopin and Debussy and ??? The harp in these Preludes suggested a piano influence, their feet firmly planted on the ground, in music of a formal spirit and shape.
Satie’s Gnossiennes, Nos 1, 2 and 3, were originally piano pieces but their scoring for saxophone and harp came very close to whatever their classical source and these players offered a very convincing case for hearing them in this guise. Though less popular than the Gymnopédies, the Gnossiennes evoke a classical world rather well. There is more variety of melody and texture, and suggest greater kinship with traditional classical compositional styles and spirits. Satie’s reputation has suffered through being seen, lazily, as little more than an odd-ball, eccentric who was mainly interested in mocking and satirising his contemporaries and the classical tradition. I have long felt that he is a much more important and interesting composer than that.
The recital ended with William Alwyn’s Little Suite for Oboe and Harp, obviously an excellent candidate for the switch to soprano sax. Alwyn was, as the programme note said, a rather neglected composer, perhaps because of his fecundity and the multiplicity of genres and styles he adopted. In large part his neglect is that of many composers who chose to remain in the main-stream classical tradition rather than adopt the doctrines of the avant-garde, and devote themselves to writing for each other and for academic approval rather than for real music lovers.
This piece in not of Mahlerian scale or moral depth or Boulezian complexity and intellectual bite, but it’s attractive and was played with levity and skill; it suggests that there’s other Alwyn music worth exploring.
So it was an enjoyable, stimulating little recital delivered by two excellent musicians.
Great composition by Glen Downie!
Friday October 28, 12:45pm-1:15pm
St. Pauls Cathedral Lunchtime Concert- Saxophone and Harp
DUO EOLIENNE: Genevieve Davidson and Michelle Velvin
This is a friday lunchtime concert at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul as part of their concert series. Please come along and hear modern works transcribed for saxophone and harp. Recitals commence at 12.45pm and last no longer than 30 minutes. Entry is by a suggested donation of $10.
Little Suite for Oboe and Harp by William Alwyn
Swing No.1 by Jacques Bondon
Danse Lente by Joseph Jongen
Rumanische Volkstanze by Bela Bartok
Entracte by Jacques Ibert
Les Berceaux by Gabriel Faure
A very interesting upcoming concert!
More information here: http://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2016/music-of-the-low-countries/wellington-region
Belgium and The Netherlands have, for centuries, been centres of music making and composition. This concert features compositions from the 20th and 21st centuries which draw on the deep roots of the tradition. Only one piece in the programme has ever before been performed in New Zealand.
Miserere for choir, tubular bells, organ and strings (2006/2007) was written by Dutch composer Wietse Stuurman (b. 1976). Stuurman studied music at Amsterdam University with a special interest in ancient music, yet his compositions are also influenced by contemporary composers such as Arvo Pärt, and Henryk Gorecki. This work is a haunting setting of the psalm text.
Dutch composer Evert van Merode (b. 1980) studied in Amsterdam. His work Stabat Mater Dolorosa (2013) was originally written in 2011 for choir and piano. The Bach Choir will present a version reworked for choir, violin, cello, and harp. In this piece, one can hear Gregorian chant and influences by such composers as Nadia Boulanger. This is an evocative work depicting Mary standing at the foot of the Cross.
Flor Peeters (1903--1985) is quite possibly the foremost 20th century Belgian composer of religious music. At the age of twenty, he was appointed Organist at St. Rombout's Cathedral in Mechelen, a post he held for almost the rest of his life. He gave over 1200 organ recitals all over the world and wrote many publications, including A Practical Method for the Accompaniment of Gregorian Chant (1942). A prolific composer of liturgical and organ music, in particular, he also wrote many songs, piano and chamber music, and concerti for organ and other instruments. His Missa Festiva for a five part choir and organ was composed in 1947 and uses Gregorian chant as a unifying device. The work shows Peeters's fine sense of harmony, with influences by Jongen and Franck.
Huub de Lange was born in the Dutch city of Groningen in 1955 and studied at the University of Utrecht. He wrote in 2004 his seven movement Requiem in memory of his nephew. It is scored for choir and string quartet. This setting is a moving tribute to his nephew and shows the depth of emotion felt by the composer.
The programme will also feature some interludes for solo organ, performed by Douglas Mews.
The other musicians featured are Laura Barton, Vivian Stephens (violin); Aidan Verity (viola); Lucy Gijsbers (cello); Michelle Velvin (harp) and Jeremy Fitzsimons (percussion).
The director is Peter De Blois.