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: M

MACKLAY Sky, Many Many Cadences

I wrote Many Many Cadences for Spektral Quartet and this recording is from their Grammy-nominated 2016 album Serious Business. We first met at The Walden School when they were ensemble-in-residence and we soon found that we were all pondering approaches to musical humor. In this piece I stretch the listeners’ perception of cadences by recontextualizing these predictable chord progressions in very fast cells that are constantly changing key and register. These lonely, disjunct ends-of-phrases eventually congeal and transform into new kinds of phrases and sound objects.

From SkyMacklay.com

MARTINŮ Bohuslav, La Revue de Cuisine

Prologue. Allegretto 
Tango. Lento  
Charleston. Poco a poco allegro 
Finale. Tempo di marcia 

Martinů’s jazz ballet La Revue de Cuisine was composed in 1927 for an ensemble of six instruments: clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello and piano. Based on a deliciously absurd scenario by Jarmila Kröschlová, it tells the story of the precarious love life of some kitchen utensils: The marriage of the Pot and the Lid is in danger of being broken up by the smooth-talking Twirling Stick. The pot succumbs to his charms, while the Dishcloth makes eyes at Lid but is challenged to a duel by the Broom. Eventually the Pot and the Lid kiss and make up while the Twirling Stick goes off with the Dishcloth. The premiere of the ballet in Prague (1927) was given under the title of The Temptation of the Saintly Cooking Pot and subsequently Martinů derived a four-movement suite from his score, gave it a new title and achieved his first international success: after a performance given in Paris on 5 January 1930 at a concert put on by the great French pianist Alfred Cortot, the publisher Alphonse Leduc immediately signed up Martinů and quickly published the score and parts.  


The first movement begins with a jaunty trumpet fanfare, followed by a lop-sided piano vamp and the gradual entrance of the rest of the ensemble for a high-spirited movement that reaches a climax with the return of the opening fanfare. The second movement is a moody Tango, and the third an entertaining Charleston. For the finale, Martinů recalls the opening fanfare (this time on the bassoon) before launching into a joyous March that avoids rhythmic symmetry and has some syncopations that recall Martinů’s interest in jazz. In fact, throughout this delightful work the sound of the small ensemble chosen by Martinů intentionally reflects the sound of dance bands from the time.  


Nigel Simeone © 2011 

MARTINŮ Bohuslav, La Revue De Cuisine

Prologue. Allegretto
Tango. Lento
Charleston. Poco a poco allegro
Finale. Tempo di marcia

Martinů’s jazz ballet La Revue de Cuisine was composed in 1927 for an ensemble of six instruments: clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, violin, cello and piano. Based on a deliciously absurd scenario by Jarmila Kröschlová, it tells the story of the precarious love life of some kitchen utensils: The marriage of the Pot and the Lid is in danger of being broken up by the smooth-talking Twirling Stick. The pot succumbs to his charms, while the Dishcloth makes eyes at Lid but is challenged to a duel by the Broom. Eventually the Pot and the Lid kiss and make up while the Twirling Stick goes off with the Dishcloth. The premiere of the ballet in Prague (1927) was given under the title of The Temptation of the Saintly Cooking Pot and subsequently Martinů derived a four-movement suite from his score, gave it a new title and achieved his first international success: after a performance given in Paris on 5 January 1930 at a concert put on by the great French pianist Alfred Cortot, the publisher Alphonse Leduc immediately signed up Martinů and quickly published the score and parts.

The first movement begins with a jaunty trumpet fanfare, followed by a lop-sided piano vamp and the gradual entrance of the rest of the ensemble for a high-spirited movement that reaches a climax with the return of the opening fanfare. The second movement is a moody Tango, and the third an entertaining Charleston. For the finale, Martinů recalls the opening fanfare (this time on the bassoon) before launching into a joyous March that avoids rhythmic symmetry and has some syncopations that recall Martinů’s interest in jazz. In fact, throughout this delightful work the sound of the small ensemble chosen by Martinů intentionally reflects the sound of dance bands from the time.

Nigel Simeone © 2011

MARTINŮ Bohuslav, Nonet H374

Poco allegro

This work dates from the last year of Martinů’s life and he wrote it with a specific ensemble in mind: the Czech Nonet. This Nonet is one of Martinů’s most fluent and skilful chamber works and in the outer movements his music suggests something akin to the joyful music-making of a group of Czech folk musicians. The heart of the work is the lyrical central Andante.

Martinů was far from home (he spent his last years in Switzerland) and in this movement he seems to bid a fond farewell to the Czech homeland that he knew he would never see again. The first performance was given by the Czech Nonet at the Salzburg Festival on 27 July 1959 and Martinů died a month later, on 28 August.

Nigel Simeone © 2011

MARTINŮ Bohuslav, Quartet for Oboe, Violin, Cello & Piano

Moderato poco allegro
Adagio – Andante poco moderato – Poco allegro

Martinů composed this unusually scored quartet in New York during autumn 1947 and it was first performed in November that year. The dedicatee was Leopold Mannes, a fascinating character in American musical life who invented Kodachrome colour film in his spare time. In 1936, Mannes became President of Mannes College in succession to his father. He attracted an impressive roster of musicians to the faculty, including the conductor George Szell, the theorist Heinrich Schenker, and Martinů for composition. The quartet is a diverting and charming work in two movements, the second of which combines a more serious slow movement with a jolly and affirmative finale which is full of Martinů’s typical rhythmic drive and strong sense of harmonic direction, ending firmly in C major.

Nigel Simeone © 2011

MARTINŮ Bohuslav, Three Madrigals

Poco allegro
Poco andante

It was hearing a performance of Mozart’s Duo in B flat played by Josef and Lillian Fuchs (brother and sister) that inspired Martinů to compose his Three Madrigals in February–March 1947, with the subtitle ‘Duo No. 1’ on the autograph manuscript. Martinů wrote to his friend Miloš Šafránek on 16 May 1947: ‘I have written Three Madrigals for violin and viola … for J. Fuchs and Lillian (his sister) who is a great and unique viola player. I heard them at a concert and was amazed by their artistic quality, so I wrote the Duo for them, and it seems to be good. They are both excited and will put it in their Carnegie recital.’ This was given on 22 December 1947 and in the next day’s New York Times, the venerated critic Virgil Thomson gave a warm welcome to the new work: ‘a delight for musical fantasy, for ingenious figuration [and] for Renaissance-style evocation.’ Josef and Lillian Fuchs performed the Madrigals on many more occasions and when their recording of the work was issued in 1950, it was coupled, appropriately, with the Mozart Duo in B flat.

© Nigel Simeone

MENDELSSOHN Felix, Piano Trio No.1 in D minor

Molto allegro ed agitato
Andante con moto tranquillo
Scherzo. Leggiero e vivace
Finale. Allegro assai appassionato

Mendelssohn’s First Piano Trio was started in February 1839, but it was not until the summer that he got down to serious work (on the autograph manuscript the first movement is dated ‘6 June 1839’ and the last ’18 July 1839’), and he put the finishing touches to it in September. It was a busy year for Mendelssohn, not only as a composer but also as a conductor: on 21 March he conducted the world première of Schubert’s ‘Great’ C major Symphony.

The first performance of Mendelssohn’s D minor Trio took place in the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 1 February 1840, played by Mendelssohn himself with the violinist Ferdinand David and cellist Carl Wittmann. Robert Schumann’s review in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik was ecstatic: he hailed Mendelssohn as ‘the Mozart of the nineteenth century’ and ‘the most brilliant of modern musicians.’ High praise indeed, but fully justified by a work that has a brooding passion that is at once very much of its time but also harks back to the Mozart of the Don Giovanni Overture and to the D minor Piano Concerto (K466) – a work which Mendelssohn performed on a number of occasions and for which he composed cadenzas. The Mendelssohn scholar Larry Todd has echoed Schumann’s view, describing the work as ‘a masterful trio with subtle relationships between the movements, and a psychological curve that incorporates the agitated brooding of the first, subdued introspection of the second and the playful frivolity of the third. The finale combines all three moods, before reconciling them in the celebratory D-major ending.’

© Nigel Simeone

MENDELSSOHN Felix, Variations sérieuses

Felix Mendelssohn’s Variations sérieuses were completed on 4 June 1841 and had been written to encourage contributions for a statue of Beethoven to be erected in Bonn, and it was published along with other works by Liszt and Chopin (among others) in a fund-raising ‘Beethoven-Album’. The piece was much admired at the time by Ignaz Moscheles, Mendelssohn’s friend and fellow contributor to the album, who often included it in his recital programme. It comprises an original theme followed by 17 sharply contrasted variations, the first group gradually building momentum, a solemn chorale (Variation 14), and the brilliant virtuosity of the closing pages. 

(C) Nigel Simeone


MENOTTI Gian-Carlo, Cantilena and Scherzo

Menotti is best known for his operas, ranging from the chilling drama of The Consul to the seasonal delights of Amahl and the Night Visitors. But his lyric gifts have also been directed towards purely instrumental works, including the Cantilena e scherzo, completed in 1977 and first performed on 15 March 1977 at the Alice Tully Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center by an ensemble led by the great Welsh harpist, Ossian Ellis. Menotti’s musical language was in no sense progressive by the 1970s, but the work remains a lovely one. Reviewing the premiere in the New York Times, Donal Henahan wrote that it ‘caressed the ear … lovely on its own terms, a haunting visit to old musical ruins, so to speak.’ The Cantilena opens with a long-breathed melody on the strings, supported by the harp. Chords on the harp introduce the Scherzo. An extended harp cadenza is followed by a varied reprise of the Cantilena.  

© Nigel Simeone

MEREDITH Anna, A short tribute to Teenage Fanclub

 Anna Meredith wrote this very short string quartet in 2013 for the Maxwell Quartet, who gave the first performance at Inverness Town House on 26 September 2013. According to her own note on the work, ‘it was written as a partner piece to Songs for the M8 [a quartet from 2005] and when I was thinking about writing it, I found myself looking back to the same (grungy, teenagery 1990s) time.’ Founded in 1989, Teenage Fanclub are a Scottish alternative rock band and Meredith was an enthusiastic fan in the 1990s. A Short Tribute does not involve any quotation but as Meredith explains: ‘I didn’t want to take any material directly from the band but have worked with layering scaley step lines and rotating chords, and keeping the texture pizzicato throughout.’ 

© Nigel Simeone

MEREDITH Anna, Short Tribute to Teenage Fanclub (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

Anna Meredith is another musician writing music today. She makes music for her band as well as for classical musicians, often mixing up instruments usually seen in an orchestra with rock and pop instruments. This piece combines the two and is a tribute to one of her favourite bands performed by string quartet who don’t use their bows at all but pluck their instruments in a technique called ‘pizzicato’.

MEREDITH Anna, Tripotages Miniatures

I              Lanolin                                 E flat Clarinet & Horn
II             40 Watt                                Piccolo & Double Bass
III           Moth                                      Alto Flute, Oboe & Horn
IV           Buzzard                                 Cor Anglais & Viola
V             Scrying                                  B flat Clarinet, Viola & Double Bass
VI           Majolica                                Tutti (Flute, Oboe, B flat Clarinet, Horn, Viola & Double Bass)
Tripotage Miniatures are a collection of 3 duets, 2 trios and a tutti movement for mixed sextet. Each miniature is around 1-3 minutes long.
The miniatures are exploring different kinds of opacity, glitch, fuzz, shade and grime – imagining underhand dealings that place a sort of filmy surface on top of the material. (My favourite translation of Tripotage from the French is Jiggery Pokery.)
Sometimes this filter seems to drain colour – turning the material almost sepia, sometimes it makes ideas a bit murkier – harder to grasp, slippery and falling through the fingers, sometimes it causes moments to stutter and distort and sometimes it’s about capturing a fleeting feeling of distance, of something out of reach.
There are tiny thematic links between the movements but they could also be played individually – it’s about capturing a moment – even if it’s a slightly shady and disquieting one.
© Anna Meredith

MESSIAEN Quartet for the End of Time (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This ‘interlude’ was the first part that Olivier Messiaen wrote of his spectacular piece, ‘A Quartet for the End of Time’ which he wrote while a prisoner in Germany during the Second World War. It’s a piece full of angels, birds, heavenly creatures, battles, rainbows and more. This is a quieter space in the middle of the almighty hubbub where three instruments, a violin, a cello and the clarinet come together.

MILHAUD Darius, Scaramouche


In May 1937 Milhaud wrote the incidental music for a production of Charles Vildrac’s play Le médecin volant (after Molière’s play of the same name), which opened at the Théâtre Scaramouche. He quickly repurposed pieces from it to create part of a suite – Scaramouche – for two pianos. As for the title, Milhaud almost certainly took it from the Scaramouche theatre and it was a particularly apt choice: in the traditional commedia dell’arte, Scaramouche is the clown, and the mood of the work is decidedly jovial, particularly the riotous Brazilian-inspired finale. 


Milhaud also made an arrangement of Scaramouche for saxophone (an instrument he had already used to great effect in La création du monde) which he dedicated to Marcel Mule, who first played it in public. Both versions were published by Raymond Deiss, famous for only printing pieces he liked. During the French Occupation, when Milhaud was exiled in America, Deiss used his presses to produce Resistance literature, paying for this with his life when he was executed by the Nazis in 1943. 


© Nigel Simeone

MILLER Cassandra, About Bach

This string quartet is an expansion of a solo work for viola (of the same name) which was commissioned by philanthropist Daniel Cooper for violist Pemi Paull. It’s a piece about process, about Pemi’s musicality, about Bach of course, and in the end, about the Quatuor Bozzini. 

I first took a recording of a short phrase (the first phrase in major) of the famous Chaconne from Bach’s Partita no. 2, performed live by Pemi. I then meticulously transcribed the recording with the help of some software — this is a process I’ve developed over some years to apprehend the exact rhythmic musicality of a performance, capturing as well various artifacts such as the viola’s upper partials as they change within each bow-stroke.   

The opening of the piece is simply this transcribed phrase of Bach, with a harmony of my own making, which turns the phrase into a gently jaunty chorale. From there the phrase goes through a somewhat inaudible process that is simply let to run, until it runs itself out. It’s a constant meandering, a non-developmental piece in an extreme sense. My interest (and freedom) in exploring such a simple form comes directly from working with the Quatuor Bozzini, and this string quartet version is a souvenir of gratitude for years of great inspiration.  

© Cassandra Miller 

MONK Meredith, Double Fiesta

Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk is a composer, singer, director/choreographer and creator of new opera, music-theater works, films and installations. Recognized as one of the most unique and influential artists of our time, she is a pioneer in what is now called “extended vocal technique” and “interdisciplinary performance.” Monk creates works that thrive at the intersection of music and movement, image and object, light and sound, discovering and weaving together new modes of perception. Her groundbreaking exploration of the voice as an instrument, as an eloquent language in and of itself, expands the boundaries of musical composition, creating landscapes of sound that unearth feelings, energies, and memories for which there are no words.


Celebrated internationally, Ms. Monk’s work has been presented at major venues throughout the world. Over the last six decades, she has been hailed as “a magician of the voice” and “one of America’s coolest composers.” In conjunction with her 50th Season of creating and performing, she was appointed the 2014-15 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall. Recently Monk received three of the highest honors bestowed to a living artist in the United States: induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2019), the 2017 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize and a 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.


After graduating Sarah Lawrence College in 1964, Monk moved to New York City and began creating work in galleries, churches, and mostly non-traditional performance spaces. In 1968 she founded The House, a company dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to performance. As a pioneer in site-specific work, she was the first artist to create a piece in the rotunda of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Juice, 1969), later reconstructing portions of the work for a new piece (Ascension Variations, 2009). Other site-specific pieces include American Archeology #1: Roosevelt Island (1994) and Songs of Ascension (2008) for visual artist Ann Hamilton’s tower. As a filmmaker, Monk has created several award-winning films including Ellis Island (1981) and her first feature, Book of Days (1988), which have screened at numerous film festivals worldwide and on PBS. The restored film of her seminal work, Quarry: An Opera in Three Movements (1976), is now available for streaming. Her films, installations and drawings have been shown in museums and galleries including Exit Art, Frederieke Taylor Gallery, in two Whitney Biennials, and at the Walker Art Center. Monk’s short films and several of her drawings are also included in the collection at MoMA.


In 1965, Monk began her innovative exploration of the voice as a multifaceted instrument, composing solo pieces for unaccompanied voice and voice and keyboard. In 1978 Monk founded Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble to expand her musical textures and forms. She has made more than a dozen recordings, most of which are on the ECM New Series label, including the 2008 Grammy-nominated impermanence and the highly acclaimed On Behalf of Nature (2016). Selected scores of her work are available through Boosey & Hawkes. In addition to her numerous vocal pieces, music-theater works and operas, Monk has created vital new repertoire for orchestra, chamber ensembles, and solo instruments, with commissions from Carnegie Hall, Michael Tilson Thomas/San Francisco Symphony and New World Symphony, Kronos Quartet, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale, among others. In 2019 a new production of her work, ATLAS: an opera in three parts (1991), was directed by Yuval Sharon and presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Her music can also be heard in films by such directors as Terrence Malick, Jean-Luc Godard, David Byrne, and the Coen Brothers.


Monk’s numerous honors and awards include the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, two Guggenheim Fellowships, three “Obies” (including an award for Sustained Achievement), and two “Bessie” awards for Sustained Creative Achievement. More recently Ms. Monk was named one of National Public Radio’s 50 Great Voices, the 2012 Composer of the Year by Musical America, and an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France. She also received a 2020 John Cage Award, 2012 Doris Duke Artist Award, a 2011 Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts, and an inaugural USA Prudential Fellow award in 2006. Monk holds honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Bard College, Boston Conservatory, Concordia University, Cornish College of the Arts, The Juilliard School, Lafayette College, Mount Holyoke College, San Francisco Art Institute, University of the Arts, and University of Hartford.


Among the many highlights of Monk’s performances from the last twenty-five years is her Vocal Offering for His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music in Los Angeles in October, 1999. Several marathon performances of her work have taken place in New York at the World Financial Center (1991), Lincoln Center Music Festival (2000), Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (2005 and 2015), Symphony Space (2008) and the Whitney Museum (2009). In February 2012, MONK MIX, a cd of remixes and interpretations featuring 25 artists from the jazz, pop, dj and new music worlds was released. She is the subject of two books of interviews, Conversations with Meredith Monk, by arts critic and Performing Arts Journal editor Bonnie Marranca, and Une voix mystique, by French author Jean-Louis Tallon. Currently Monk is developing Indra’s Net, the third part of a trilogy of music-theater works exploring our interdependent relationship with nature, following the highly acclaimed On Behalf of Nature (2013) and Cellular Songs (2018).


© www.meredithmonk.org


Double Fiesta (1986)

I originally composed “Double Fiesta” in 1986 for solo voice and two pianos. In the piece, I explored a variety of vocal qualities and quick shifts of persona or character within the underlying relaxed but buoyant atmosphere created by the two pianos. “Double Fiesta” was originally part of Acts from Under and Above, a chamber piece presenting images of solitude and friendship.


© Meredith Monk

MOZART Amadeus, ‘Harmoniemusik’ from Le nozze di Figaro for wind octet

Harmoniemusik – music for wind ensemble – was something that delighted Mozart, both as a composer (producing what are perhaps the finest serenades for woodwind ever written) and as someone who was willingly entertained by the arrangements that were often made of favourite numbers from operas of the day. Mozart himself alludes to this in a delightful way with the musical entertainment during the banquet in Act Two of Don Giovanni when a wind band plays tunes from operas by Soler, Sarti and also the aria ‘Non più andrai’ from Mozart’s own Nozze di Figaro.

Contemporary wind arrangements of Mozart’s music proliferated, including extracts from Figaro, Don Giovanni and Die Entführung aus dem Serail, while a selection of Harmonie arrangements from Die Zauberflöte was advertised in the Wiener Zeitung in January 1792. All provide delightful music for entertainment and sometimes include interesting clues about performance practice (giving an oboist, for example, an ornamented vocal line that included decorations as performed by singers but not included in the printed score of the opera itself). The identity of early arrangers is sometimes hard to determine, though the oboist Johann Wendt was particularly important as chief arranger for the Harmonie established by Emperor Joseph II in 1782. The best Harmonie arrangements, by Wendt and others, remain a charming way to experience operatic music in a new guise.

© Nigel Simeone

MOZART Amadeus, Fantasia in C minor K475

Mozart completed his Fantasia in C minor on 20 May 1785 and it was published in December 1785 (in tandem with the Piano Sonata in C minor K457) with a dedication to Therese von Trattner (1758–96), one of Mozart’s favourite pupils. The Fantasia shows Mozart at his most audacious and the Mozart scholar Alfred Einstein wrote that the work ‘gives us the truest picture of Mozart’s mighty powers of improvisation – his ability to indulge in the greatest freedom and boldness of imagination, the most extreme contrast of ideas, the most uninhibited variety of lyric and virtuoso elements.’ This extraordinary work combines tragic grandeur with a relish for extreme chromaticism and bravura, alongside moments of great tenderness.

© Nigel Simeone

MOZART Amadeus, Trio in E flat K498 Kegelstatt

Rondo. Allegretto

This is Mozart’s only trio for his three favourite instruments: clarinet, viola and piano. The nickname ‘Kegelstatt’ means ‘skittle alley’, and legend has it that Mozart wrote the work during a game of skittles. This may be far-fetched, especially given the rather noble character of the music, but what is certain is that he wrote the trio in Vienna, and entered it in his own thematic catalogue on 5 August 1786. The first movement is a marvellous example of Mozart’s invention at its most concentrated and unforced: every element in this sonata-form movement derives from the ornamental turn that is such a distinctive feature of the opening. The Minuet surprises by its almost grand character – no mere courtly dance, but something more imposing – and this is followed by an unhurried Rondo that brings this radiant work to a lyrical conclusion.

© Nigel Simeone

MOZART String Quartet In E Flat K428 (excerpt for ‘Close Up’)

This beautiful tune is almost like a lullaby and shows how gentle the sound of the strings can be. Listen to the way the first violin plays a tune and the other three instruments rock gently back and forth underneath, creating a warm blanket of sound. This is music to wrap up warm within. How does it make you feel?

MOZART Wolfgang Amadeus, 9 Variations on a Minuet by Duport

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his Variations on a Minuet by Duport in 1789: an entry in his thematic catalogue dated Potsdam, 29 April 1789, lists ‘6 Variations for piano’ but in fact there were 9 of them. The cellist and composer Jean-Pierre Duport had been recruited by Frederick the Great in 1773 and after his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II was crowned King of Prussia in 1786, Duport was made responsible for the chamber music at court. The theme is taken from one of Duport’s cello sonatas and its buoyant mood sets the tone for much of what follows, although the sixth variation is slow and dream-like. 

(C) Nigel Simeone

MOZART Wolfgang Amadeus, Clarinet Quintet in A K581

Allegretto con variazioni  

The Clarinet Quintet was completed on 29 September 1789 and written for Mozart’s friend Anton Stadler (1753–1812). The first performance took place a few months later at a concert in Vienna’s Burgtheater on 22 December 1789, with Stadler as the soloist in a programme where the premiere of the Clarinet Quintet was a musical interlude, sandwiched between the two parts of Vincenzo Righini’s cantata The Birth of Apollo, performed by “more than 180 persons.” 

From the start, Mozart is at his most daringly beautiful: the luxuriant voicing of the opening string chords provides a sensuously atmospheric musical springboard for the clarinet’s opening flourish. The rich sonority of the Clarinet Quintet is quite unlike that of any other chamber music by Mozart, but it does have something in common with his opera Così fan tutte (premièred in January 1790), on which he was working at the same time. In particular, the slow movement of the quintet, with muted strings supporting the clarinet, has a quiet rapture that recalls the trio ‘Soave sia il vento’ (with muted strings, and prominent clarinet parts as well as voices) in Così. The finale of the Quintet is a Theme and Variations which begins with folk-like charm, then turns to more melancholy reflection before ending in a spirit of bucolic delight. 

Nigel Simeone © 2012 

MOZART Wolfgang Amadeus, Quintet for Piano and Wind in E flat K452

Largo – Allegro moderato

In a letter to his father on 10 April 1784, Mozart described his new Quintet for Piano and Wind as ‘the best piece I have ever written’. Completed on 30 March 1784 it was given its première just two days later on 1 April, at a ‘grand musical concert’ for the benefit of the National Court Theatre in Vienna. The extraordinary programme consisted of two Mozart Symphonies (almost certainly the ‘Haffner’ and the ‘Linz’), an ‘entirely new concerto’ played by Mozart (either K450 or K451, both recently finished), a solo improvisation, three opera arias and the first performance of an ‘entirely new grand quintet’. It was probably the presence of wind players for the symphonies that prompted Mozart to write one of his most original chamber works for this occasion.

While the first movement is designed on almost symphonic lines (complete with substantial slow introduction), it has a gentler sensibility and textures that recall the kind of dialogue between piano and wind that are such a feature of Mozart’s mature piano concertos. After a slow movement that makes the most of the song-like expressiveness of wind instruments, the finale is a sonata rondo – in essence a theme that returns repeatedly within a developing context – that was also much favoured in the piano concertos. The Quintet is highly original in terms of how it is put together, and the daring with which Mozart explores unusual sonorities.

Nigel Simeone © 2011

MOZART Wolfgang Amadeus, String Quartet in E flat K428

Allegro non troppo 
Andante con moto 
Menuetto and Trio. Allegro 
Allegro vivace 

In 1785 the Viennese publisher Artaria issued a set of six string quartets by Mozart, the title page of which reads: “Six Quartets for two violins, viola and violoncello. Composed and dedicated to Signor Joseph Haydn, Master of Music for the Prince of Esterhazy, by his friend W.A. Mozart.” This was a most unusual dedication for the time: composers nearly always dedicated works to the aristocrats who supported them financially, not to fellow musicians. The long dedicatory epistle is headed “To my dear friend Haydn”. Mozart explains why he dedicated these quartets to Haydn, wanting to confide them “to the protection and guidance of a very celebrated man, especially when the latter by good fortune was at the same time his best friend.” The quartets, he writes, are “the fruit of a long and laborious study,” but that Haydn himself had told Mozart of his “satisfaction with them during your last visit to this capital. It is this above all which urges me to commend them to you … and to be their father, guide and friend!” 

After hearing these quartets, Haydn declared to Mozart’s father that “Before God and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name.” Mozart’s “long and laborious study” included a detailed examination of Haydn’s Quartets Op.33 (composed in 1781), but while he had studied Haydn’s magnificent model, the results were no pastiche, but six works of extraordinary originality. 

The Quartet in E flat, K428, is the third of the “Haydn” Quartets and it was completed in 1783. It opens with a spacious theme in octaves that already reveals some of the chromatic colouring that gives this work its strikingly individual character. This harmonic daring is continued in the extraordinary slow movement – rich and intense – which seems to hint at the music of later composers, especially Brahms (the persistent drooping figure) and even Wagner. The Minuet is bracing but never predictable, while the central Trio is again more sinuous and chromatic. The delectable Rondo finale is a brilliant example of Mozart’s quartet writing at its most witty and inventive: a dazzling homage that captures the very essence of Haydn.  

© Nigel Simeone  

MULLOV-ABBADO Misha, The Linden Tree

Misha Mullov-Abbado

Award-winning, London-based jazz bass player, composer and arranger Misha Mullov-Abbado is a musician who combines great imagination with raw talent and a clear vision. A BBC New Generation Artist and with three critically acclaimed albums on Edition Records under his name, his most recent offering Dream Circus showcases his ‘melodic gift’ (John Fordham, The Guardian) and ability to masterfully combine beautifully-crafted compositions with free-spirited improvisation. Written over a three-year period the album, produced by fellow Edition Records bassist and bandleader Jasper Høiby (Phronesis), marks the arrival of an artist who has been on a voyage of self-discovery.


His aforementioned collective features some of the most exhilarating and sought-after young musicians in London and was formed during Misha’s final year at Royal Academy of Music. An experienced band-leader and versatile sideman, Misha regularly performs all over the UK and around the world, including at top London venues such as Ronnie Scott’s, the Vortex, King’s Place and Royal Albert Hall. His vast musical travels have led him to work alongside inspiring musicians

such as Alice Zawadzki, Dave O’Higgins, Tim Garland, Viktoria Mullova, Enzo Zirilli, Sam Lee, Rob Luft, Paul Clarvis, Stan Sulzmann and Nessi Gomes.


A prolific composer and arranger in his own right, Misha embraces his jazz, classical, pop and folk influences and writes for a variety of jazz groups, as well as various classical soloists and ensembles. Commissions include work with the Hermes Experiment, Norfolk & Norwich Festival, LSSO, Hill Quartet, Pelleas Ensemble, NW Live Arts and BBC Radio 3, the latter of which commissioned his cello concerto which was premiered at London’s Southbank Centre by Matthew Barley and the BBC Concert Orchestra.


It’s only a matter of time before Misha seals his place on the international scene at the forefront of a new generation of European creative Jazz musicians.


© www.mishamullovabbado.com


The Linden Tree (2015)

Misha Mullov-Abbado’s The Linden Tree retains the familiar folksong-like lyrics but crafts a new melody and accompaniment. The flowing tune stays true to the bittersweet melancholy of the original, but the score also introduces a range of jazz and swing elements into the instrumental accompaniment, from a strolling pizzicato bass to the occasional quasiimprovisatory solo from the clarinet.


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

MUSGRAVE Thea, Niobe

Niobe, written in July and November 1987, was commissioned by the Park Lane Group for Ian Hardwick. The Tape was made in the Chiens Interdits Studios in New York; recording engineer, Jonathan Mann.

In Greek mythology, Niobe was the daughter of Tantalus and wife of Amphion, King of Thebes. She unwisely boasted to Leto about her many sons and daughters. Leto, who only had two children, Apollo and Artemis, was angered.

As punishment Apollo slew all of Niobe’s sons and Artemis all her daughters.

Out of pity for Niobe’s inconsolable grief, the Gods changed her into a rock, in which form she continued to weep.

In this short work for solo oboe and Tape, the solo oboe takes the part of Niobe bitterly lamenting her murdered children. The tape with the distant high voices and the slow tolling bells, and later gong, is intended to provide an evocative and descriptive accompaniment.

Thea Musgrave ©


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