It was a real privilege to kick off the New Year at Handel House by making music with some good pals of mine – the talented recorder quartet, BLOCK4, who joined us on 1st January for a concert of Handel, Blecharz, Battiferri, Merula, and a few pieces of Hillier…

Thanks so much to all those who were able to join us that day. And fear not those who were absent – perhaps you were still recovering from the previous evening’s festivities! – you can catch up on some of the concert’s music on the links below.

BLOCK4’s programme took us on a journey through centuries of recorder repertoire – from Merula in the early 1600s to Hillier in… well… 2015 I guess (if only by a few hours…), with all pieces, in their many diverse forms, united through a central fugal or canonic idea.

I thought I might tell you in this blog a little bit more about my two pieces performed that evening:

The first, Arcos, I composed for the quartet a year and a bit ago now, for a project at the Royal College of Music (where we all study or studied). When planning the programme, we thought Arcos might fit well with the fugal theme running through the concert. Although in no sense a strict fugue (or even, if we’re honest, a very unstrict fugue), Arcos’ principal concern is one of closely wrought lines, which intersect and interact, weaving in and out of a fairly fixed and regulated framework (as a broad concept at least, not too far away from the musical form of the evening’s other offerings).

Arcos takes its inspiration from a painting of the same name by British artist William Tillyer. You can see both Tillyer’s work [on the left], as well as an extract from the piece – played here by the marvellous BLOCK4.

Entr’acte Fragment for electronics my first work composed especially for performance in Handel House –  I created as a bridging work in the programme: something which would connect up the works adjacent to it, and take the audience on a sonic journey from the present day, back to more traditional recorder territory. Consequently, all sounds heard are sampled directly from recordings made by BLOCK4 of my Arcos (the preceding piece) and Merula’s 17-century Canzona (which followed directly on).

As you’ll hear in the below audio, Entr’acte Fragment  is something of a melting pot, where different strands of material coalesce and fuse together, until eventually bubbling over, leaving behind only a fragment of broken melody (a melody which turns out to be the opening phrase of Merula’s work, which begins straightaway).

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I hope you’ll check out some of these recordings –  and please do have a look at BLOCK4’s website here: Well worth a visit!

If you missed the quartet this time round, fear not – they’ll be back at Handel House, I’m sure of that!