About The Music

Dip into our programme notes for pieces presented by Music in the Round. Covering music that is forthcoming and has been recently performed, learn more about the works and also listen to brief extracts. 

About The Music: H

HALL Emily, I am happy living simply & the end of the ending

Emily Hall

Emily Hall is a composer, known first and foremost for her songwriting.


Much of Emily Hall’s music is formed from close creative relationships with singers, instrumentalists and writers and finding her own ways of using technology and live performance.


She has written for the BBC Singers, Manchester Collective, London Sinfonietta, LSO, LCO, BBC NOW, the Brodsky Quartet, Opera North, LCO, Mahogany Opera, Hungarian Radio Choir, Aldeburgh Music, Streetwise Opera.


Emily has written 5 operas, none of which are traditional in form and many, many songs, including a trilogy of song cycles with author Toby Litt, on love (“Befalling”), motherhood (“Life Cycle”) and death (“Rest”).


Her music has been recorded by a multitude of artists including the BBC Singers, LSO, Allan Clayton, Olivia Chaney, Lady Maisery, The Hermes Experiment, Juice Vocal Ensemble and Onyx Brass.

Emily Hall is the recipient of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists, the Genesis Opera Prize, the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Award and the Corinthia AIR.


Emily Hall is a member of Bedroom Community, the Icelandic record label and is signed to Manners Mcdade publishing.


© www.emilyhall.co.uk


I am happy living simply (2017)

The end of the ending (2017)

Emily Hall’s two songs I am happy living simply and The end of the ending (2017) set fragments of text by Marina Tsvetaeva (1892– 1941), a Russian poet renowned for both her creative and political daring. Tsvetaeva’s poems are deceptively simple and Hall’s artful settings in turn capture something of their ambivalence. I am happy living simply is at first an uncomplicated celebration of dwelling in the present, as conveyed by the buoyant tick-tock of the harp and a sweetly lilting melody in the voice. A more feverish energy begins to creep into the song, however, as repetitions of the text grow more hectic amid flashes of dissonance. As Hall describes it, Tsvetaeva’s injunction to live ‘simply’ can only be achieved by ‘regimenting ourselves into simplification … sacrificing the beauty of chaos which ultimately is impossible to keep out’. Time weighs more heavily in The end of the ending with harp and double bass meting out a solemn pulse beneath the plaintive vocal line. Only the clarinet offers something like consolation in its ascending scale at the song’s close.


© Kate Wakeling (written for the Hermes Experiment’s album Here we are)

HARRISON Pamela, Drifting Away (for clarinet and piano)

Pamela Harrison studied at the Royal College of Music with Gordon Jacob (composition) and Arthur Benjamin (piano), and she composed several important works during the Second World War, including a String Quartet first performed in 1941 at the National Gallery Concerts. She wrote several important works for clarinet, inspired in part by a warm friendship with Jack Brymer for whom she composed a rugged and dramatic Clarinet Sonata in 1953, following this with a Clarinet Quintet in 1956. Drifting Away dates from two decades later: it was first performed by Brymer in 1975 at Sherbourne School. The title was derived from lines by W.B. Yeats: 

I heard the old, old men say 
All that’s beautiful drifts away 
Like the waters. 


Appropriately enough, this tender and evocative work, exquisitely crafted, was played by Brymer at the memorial service for Pamela Harrison in 1990.  


© Nigel Simeone 

HAYDN Joseph, Piano Trio E flat, Hob.XV:29

Poco allegretto 
Andantino ed innocentemente 
Finale. Presto assai 

In 1797, the London publisher Longman & Broderip published a set of ‘Three Sonatas for the piano-forte with an accompaniment for the violin & violoncello … dedicated to Mrs. Bartolozzi.’ The dedicatee was Therese Jansen (1770–1843), born in Aachen, who was a pupil of the pianist and composer Muzio Clementi and who met Haydn during his first London visit. In 1795 she married the art dealer Gaetano Bartolozzi and Haydn – on his second English visit – was one of the witnesses at their wedding. In 1797, Therese gave birth to a daughter who went on to have an important career as a singer and theatre manager: Lucia Elizabeth became better known as Madame Vestris, singing in the first English performances of many Rossini operas and in the world premiere of Weber’s Oberon. The same year as giving birth, Therese Jansen was the dedicatee of three of Haydn’s finest piano trios: the E flat Trio is the last in the set. 


The first movement moves with the steady tread of a delicate march, but with all sorts of rhythmic and harmonic subtleties that continually surprise, not least near the end where Haydn moves into some unexpected keys before an assertive close. The slow movement, in the completely unexpected key of B major, opens with a lilting, lyrical theme on the piano which is then taken up by the violin. With brilliant sleight-of-hand, Haydn shifts back to the home key of E flat major, ending on a dominant pedal to lead directly into the finale. This is a dazzling German dance, sometimes folkish in character, and full of Haydn’s irrepressible inventiveness. 


© Nigel Simeone

HAYDN Joseph, Piano Trio in A major Hob XV:18

Allegro moderato 

Haydn’s Piano Trio in A major is a work that shows the composer at his most genial and his most inventive. Many of his trios are essentially piano sonatas with accompaniment, but in this work the violin and cello are much more important participants in the ensemble right from the start. After the three arresting chords that open the first movement, Haydn introduces an idea that is taken up in imitation by all three instruments. A few years later, Haydn was to use an almost identical opening gesture to begin one of his greatest string quartets, the G major Quartet Op.76 No.1. The combination of contrapuntal writing – usually thought of as ‘learned’ – with a wonderfully genial spirit makes for a potent mixture in the first movement. The central development section contains some extraordinary harmonic surprises, as fragments of the opening idea are taken into some remote keys. The lilting slow movement – in a minor key – is a wistful interlude that leads directly into a ‘gypsy’ style finale full of syncopations, accents off the main beats, and a driving rhythmic energy, all based on a single theme. Near the end Haydn enjoys a brief excursion into some remote keys, before bringing the movement to a rousing close.  


It’s easy to underestimate Haydn’s trios: more than forty of them survive but relatively few of these are played regularly. This A major Trio is an outstanding example: it’s not only melodically rich but endlessly inventive. It was first published in London by Longman and Broderip in 1794 as one of a set of ‘Three Sonatas’ for piano with accompaniment for violin and cello. In Amsterdam the same year, the firm of J.J. Hummel issued it as one of ‘Three Grand Trios’ – an interesting reflection of what would appeal to different national markets, but in the case of this ebullient little masterpiece the Amsterdam title seems much more appropriate.  


Nigel Simeone 

HAYDN Joseph, Piano Trio in B flat Hob. XV:20

Andante cantabile 
Finale. Allegro 

Haydn wrote piano trios throughout his career, but many of them dated from later in his life. The B flat Piano Trio was completed in 1794 during Haydn’s second stay in London, one of a set of three first published in the same year by the London firm of Longman and Broderip with a dedication to Princess Maria Therese of Esterhazy. The first movement (Allegro) is full of typically Haydnesque verve, some unusual sonorities and numerous delightful touches. In the slow movement (Andante cantabile), the theme is presented in the piano left hand before Haydn embarks on a series of delicate and subtle variations, each instrument contributing the colours and contrasts of each iteration of the theme before coming to rather an abrupt end. The finale (Allegro) is an amiable delight, recalling the style and the expressive range of the finales of Haydn’s mature string quartets, moving from quiet charm to moments of pathos and back again, to bring the work to an affirmative close.  


© Nigel Simeone 

HAYDN Joseph, Piano Trio in F sharp minor, Hob XV:26

Adagio cantabile
Finale. Tempo di Menuetto

This trio was the last of three new works composed for the pianist Rebecca Schroeter during Haydn’s visit to London in 1794–5 for the first performances of the last six of his ‘London’ Symphonies. The second of this, with its ‘Gypsy’ Rondo, is probably Haydn’s best-known trio, but the present work, in F sharp minor, is much more elusive and subtle, though the wistful mood of the opening is soon changed by a move towards major keys and increasing animation in the piano part. The slow movement – in the very unusual key for the time of F sharp major – is a reworking of the F major slow movement of Haydn’s Symphony No.102. In the symphony this is headed ‘In Nomine Domini’ (In the Name of the Lord) – a reminder of the religious inspiration of some of Haydn’s secular works. The finale is unusual: a rather stately Minuet in F sharp minor, with a contrasting central section in F sharp major. The close is dramatic and rather austere.

© Nigel Simeone

HAYDN Joseph, Quartet in B flat Op.33 No.4

Allegro moderato
Scherzo. Allegretto – Minore


Haydn’s Opus 33 quartets, also known as the “Russian” quartets, are a collection of six string quartets composed in 1781. These works represent a significant milestone in the development of the string quartet as a genre, and they are widely regarded as Haydn’s finest compositions.


This quartet in B flat major opens with a vibrant and exuberant Allegro moderato showcasing Haydn’s signature humour and wit, with playful exchanges between the four instruments. The Scherzo is a lively and rhythmic dance that is full of energy and syncopation. The Adagio is a poignant and expressive, aria-like movement that showcases Haydn’s gift for melody and his ability to evoke deep emotion through music. The quartet concludes with a dazzling and virtuosic finale, that brings the work to an exhilarating conclusion. Throughout the quartet, Haydn’s use of form and inventive musical ideas play with tonality, harmonic structure and texture to create a rich and complex musical tapestry. The quartet is marked by surprise, unexpected turns, and humour, while maintaining a sense of coherence and unity. Haydn’s Opus 33 No.4 is a landmark in the development of the genre: a work of great beauty, depth, and complexity.


© Nigel Simeone

HAYDN Joseph, String Quartet in D, Op.20 No.4

Allegro di molto 
Un poco adagio. Affetuoso 
Allegretto alla zingarese 
Presto scherzando 

The ‘Sun’ string quartets Op.20 (so named because of the sunrise on the title page of an early edition) were composed in 1772 and the manuscript was one of the prize possessions of Johannes Brahms. The English musicologist Donald Francis Tovey wrote that ‘No document in the history of music is more important than Haydn’s Op.20, with its three fugues (which secure autonomy and equality of parts by a return to the old polyphony), its passages of turn-about solo, its experiments in rich and special effects, and, most important of all, its achievements in quite normal quartet-writing such as pervades the remaining forty-odd quartets.’ In short, with Op.20, Haydn established himself as the master of the string quartet genre. Surprisingly, it was another decade before he composed more quartets (Op.33 followed in 1781).  


The String Quartet Op.20 No.4 is one of the less troubled and anguished of the set, but it is endlessly ingenious. The opening is subdued and rather chorale-like until it is interrupted by flashing violin arpeggios, and the whole movement is marked by sudden and unexpected contrasts. The slow movement is a beautiful set of variations in D minor, notable for its harmonic richness and for the distribution of the variations among all four instruments. The Minuet ‘in gypsy style’ has plenty of surprises – a dazzling display of ambiguous cross-rhythms that only settles into regular patterns of triple time in the Trio. The finale is anything but predictable with modulations to strange keys, moments of ‘exotic’ colouring, and a delectably nihilistic ending.  


Nigel Simeone © 2011 

HAYDN Joseph, String Quartet Op.20 No.2

Capriccio. Adagio 
Minuet. Allegretto 
Fuga a quattro soggetti 

By the time Haydn composed his six Op.20 String Quartets, in 1772, he had developed an innovative mastery of the form. In terms of novel designs and textures, these quartets are truly remarkable. Musicologist Donald Francis Tovey, writing about the Op.20 Quartets as a whole, described them as follows: ‘Every page of the six quartets of Op.20 is of historic and aesthetic importance … there is perhaps no single … opus in the history of instrumental music which has achieved so much’. He and others have argued convincingly that in this set of quartets – and the Op.33 set that followed nine years later – Haydn single-handedly defined what the medium of the quartet was capable of achieving. 


The first movement of Op.20 No.2 opens with the main theme on the cello, playing above the accompanment by the viola, and closely shadowed by the second violin, while the first violin plays nothing for the first six bars of the piece. In the development section, cello and first violin seem engaged in a kind of musical combat, while the movement almost fizzles out on a pianissimo cadence. After an austere unison opening, the slow movement, in C minor (itself quite unusual in a major key work), is again notable for the way in which the main ideas are shared between the parts, with the cello again taking a lead with the melodic ideas while the other strings play hushed semiquavers. But Haydn soon turns this movement into a turbulent musical drama – including violent contrasts between loud and soft – before introducing a gentler theme in E flat major on the first violin, accompanied by smooth quavers in the second violin and more animated, complex figuration in the viola. This movement leads without interruption into the Minuet, back in the home key of C major, but full of chromatic colouring, rhythmic ambiguities and unusual drones. The fugal finale on multiple themes is marked ‘sempre sotto voce’ (always hushed) – until the final outburst of the main fugue theme brings the work to its conclusion. This is another most unusual feature of this remarkable piece – a work of great beauty and power that is positively bristling with inventiveness. 


© Nigel Simeone 

HAYDN Joseph, String Quartet Op.76 No.4 ‘Sunrise’

Allegro con spirito
Menuetto. Allegro
Finale. Allegro, ma non troppo

This quartet was nicknamed the ‘Sunrise’ on account of its opening idea, an ascending theme on the first violin, heard over sustained chords. It was completed in 1797, and published as the fourth in what was to be Haydn’s last set of six quartets. A strongly contrasting idea in semiquavers is punctuated by short, rhythmic chords. Throughout the movement, Haydn cuts between these two sharply characterized themes, often returning to the ‘sunrise’ idea in ingenious ways. For instance, quite near the start, the theme is heard on the cello, beneath long chords in the upper strings, and this time it heads in a new direction – descending rather than ascending. The variety of texture in this movement is a constant source of delight – a composer at the height of his powers in a genre which he had not only pioneered but also developed to new expressive heights. The slow movement is reflective and unusually free in terms of structure: here the fantasia-like form seems to emerge as a natural consequence of the musical ideas. The Minuet comes as a charming contrast, until the rather austere Trio section where the violins present a serpentine tune, full of chromatic twists, over a drone in the lower strings. The finale is based on a theme that resembles a folk-song, and it has been suggested Haydn may have discovered this tune during his second visit to London in 1795. For the most part, the mood of this movement is jovial apart from a darker central section where the tune is presented in B flat minor. The work ends back in the major, closing with two unusually full double- and triple-stopped chords.

Nigel Simeone © 2015

HAYDN Russian Quartet No.3 (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

Haydn was the composer who did most to first create a form of music for two violins, a viola and a cello: a group we know as a string quartet. This piece has the nickname ‘The Bird’ — can you hear why?

HOLST Imogen, Cinquepace & Gigue from Suite for Unaccompanied Viola

Imogen Holst, the daughter of Gustav Holst, wrote this suite for viola in 1930, though the exact date is unknown. It was first performed on 14th December 1931 at the Ballet Club Theatre, 2a Ladbroke Road, London W11, by Violet Brough who was the viola player with the Macnaghten String Quartet. In this concert the Quartet and others performed Elizabeth Maconchy’s Quintet for Strings, a Haydn String Quartet, songs by Patrick Hadley and Philip Rosseter and also gave the first performance of a string quartet by Betty Lutyens.


In June 1932, Imogen Holst specially wrote out a fair copy of the work and gave it to her schoolfriend Leila Andrews as a wedding present. It bore the dedication “For Leila with love from Imo. June 1932”. It seems as though it was the copy of the work that was given as the gift, rather than the work itself. With her solo suite for violin, Imogen Holst appears to have given a number of copies of the work to different people with individual dedications on each. However, with the Suite for Viola, only Leila Andrews’ copy has come to light with a dedication.


The work is in four movements: Prelude, Cinquepace, Saraband & Gigue.


© www.goodmusicpublishing.com

HOWELLS Herbert, Rhapsodic Quintet for Clarinet and Strings Op.31 

Lento, ma appassionato – A tempo, tranquillo – Piu mosso, inquieto – Doppio movimento ritmico, e non troppo allegro – Più elato – Meno mosso – Lento, assai tranquillo – Più adagio 

Herbert Howells is probably best remembered for his church music (including the famous hymn tune ‘All my hope on God is founded’ as well as several outstanding settings of service music) and for his choral masterpiece Hymnus paradisi. But he was also a gifted composer for instruments and wrote a good deal of chamber music at the start of his career. The Rhapsodic Quintet was completed in June 1919 and Howells himself said that there was ‘a mystic feeling about the whole thing’. Still, mystic feelings didn’t come without some serious hard work, and the Howells scholar Paul Spicer has drawn attention to an entry in the composer’s diary where he noted that the quintet had involved quite a lot of preparatory thinking. Howells wrote of his ‘long ponderous thoughts on problems of musical form … hours spent in an easy-chair, fire-gazing, form-thinking.’ The ‘form-thinking’ was clearly productive, since this beautifully written quintet for clarinet and strings in one movement appears to flow effortlessly from one idea to the next as well as having overall coherence. This was an early work – Howells had only recently finished his studies at the Royal College of Music with Stanford and Charles Wood – but his handling of the instruments shows tremendous assurance. Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music makes particular mention of this, describing the work as having a ‘sensitive appreciation of instrumental needs’, but there is more to it than that, since Howells also shows a great gift for unfolding long, lyrical melodies, and contrasting these with more capricious ideas. It’s this combination of fluent and idiomatic writing with memorable thematic material that led Christopher Palmer, in his biography of Howells, to call the Rhapsodic Quintet ‘an outstanding achievement’.  


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