Morning coffee concerts are popular social events, usually oversubscribed, where music also brings to life some of Ryedale’s most beautiful corners. Two recently have been further illuminated by talks given by composers introducing newly-commissioned works.
Deborah Pritchard spoke with passion about synaesthesia - her love-affair with colour as an inspiration in her music - and specifically how paintings by Hughie O’Donoghue animated her new Seven Halts on the Somme, written in close collaboration with Desbruslais’s deft trumpet.
Its poignant contrasts, without gimmickry, subtly subjugate the martial trumpet to an evocative, even remorseful role, frisky against angry piano in Sausage Valley, pensively elegiac in Flatiron Copse, high and muted over shimmering keyboard in Pozières: The Moulin. A moving commemoration, tinged with hope.
In complete contrast, Edwin Roxburgh’s new Pro Patria Mori used extended techniques in an ironic evocation of war’s other dimension, from reveille onwards. It was memorable for Hammond’s majestic pianism.
Michael Zev Gordon brought compelling advocacy to his talk on music and memory, elucidating along the way his 12-part On Memory, which formed the spine of Houston’s recital. An amusing game of ‘spot the allusion’, it also showed how diverse influences, from Bach to Kletzmer tango, may float into the process of composition.
Houston was splendidly nonchalant here, interspersing Bartok, Debussy and Chopin (a strong ‘Revolutionary’ Etude) among others, and persuasive in Gordon’s striking new Homecoming, contrasting a wistful opening with sforzando clusters. Stimulating stuff.