48 Ways of Looking at Bach—Peter de Jager at the Melbourne Recital Centre

In December Peter de Jager gave a concert in the MRC's 48 Ways of Looking at Bach series, and programmed the premiere of PdeJ1 (facetiae) alongside the last eight of the 48, some lovely Stanchinsky canonic Preludes, and a Medtner Skazka. PdeJ1 came about because I had written another PdeJ piece, and Peter had thought it not an ideal fit for his recital, so I sat down and wrote another in a couple of weeks in late November 2017, finishing the work on December 2*. Peter's recital was on December 6another de Jager coup.

I had the good fortune to be able to attend the December concert, and noticed that it was being filmed--an unusual and rather gratifying prospect; I've been waiting impatiently ever since to get sight of the video. Today I was advised that this film is now available online, both on youtube and at the MRC's own website. It's a very pleasing record of what was a remarkable recital ...and I'm delighted to be able to revisit Peter's performance of PdeJ1. I hope those of you who give it a listen enjoy it as much as I do.

PdeJ1, subtitled facetiae (= apophthegms), is in seven sections, and the first three and last three are paired, separated by a brief flourish. The titles, semitributes, and timings are:

50:40 I Rustle of Spring [Sinding]

51:20 II Cyclopes [Rameau]

52:05 III Précis [Birtwistle]

54:26 IV Fructall

55:11 V Summer Breeze [Isleys' version, not Seals & Crofts]

56:16 VI biCyclopes [Jarry] and

57:03 VII Paraphrase [Liszt]


NB: If you really only want to hear my piece, as you can see it begins at about 50:40 and ends at 59:32. But that way you are missing out on, at the very least, the remarkable Stanchinsky works. Go on, listen to it all, it's only 75 minutes.

* The replaced work is now known as PdeJ2 (austerer measures), taking its title from Peter's description, and can be found on the Scores page. There will be a PdeJ3 (laminar flow), and the group will be known collectively as the Sonata de Jager.

Alex Raineri premieres the complete flex for AR

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a concert given by Alex Raineri for Macedon Music that included no less than five premieres of new Australian works, interspersed with some of Alex's favourite small piano works. The Australian works were fading lines by Samuel Smith, Si el clima fuera un banco by Liam Flenady (one of my colleagues on the Braneworlds CD), Chroma by Samantha Wolf, Intended Inventions by James Ledger, and my own flex for AR. This was a mammoth program, which Alex handled with his customary aplomb and flourish.

I'm accustomed to my works being performed in fairly formal circumstances in public auditoria and I was not entirely sure what the protocol would be for the semi-private Macedon Music concert. In the event, we were warmly welcomed into the extraordinary surroundings of Lowland Farm, and Kate and I spent the two hours of the concert reclining in the most comfortable chairs I have ever encountered, watching eagles circle overhead through the vast windows, and generally feeling at peace with the world. Quite a different experience to the anxiety-infused public concerts I'm used to. Long ago, somewhere, I bumped into Brian Ferneyhough late at night and he told me that he had just heard a performance of T&MS I in a bierkeller. "That's the best concert I've ever attended", he announced. I felt rather similarly about Sunday's outing.

Thanks indeed, Macedon Music!

Left to Right: Samuel Smith, Samantha Wolf, Alex Raineri, CD


Lost property

There was a time, long before the advent of photocopiers, let alone scanners, when music was reproduced using smelly chemical baths or hard labour. In my teens and early twenties I produced a number of pieces that for this reason existed only in a very small number of copies, and over the years I have lost not only my original manuscripts but also any reproductions of most of these works. I know that if there are any copies in existence out there in the wider world they are very few in number. Ironically, the only pieces I can remember in enough detail to attempt a reconstruction are the earliest, two (three?) piano pieces I wrote in 1967, but it would be simpler and more reliable to find the score.

The works in question are, with approximate dates:

  • lamentations (piano solo) (1967)
  • moods (recorder and piano) (1968)
  • starharvest (orchestra) (1975)
  • Capablanca as Beethoven (countertenor, sax, clar, percussion, cello) (1976)
  • erscheinung der nacht (small ensemble) (1977)
  • compulsion (violin and piano) (1978)
  • nox mirabilis (solo violin) (1979)

These are the ones I remember.

If anyone has any idea where a score of any of these works, or others of the same vintage, might be lodged, please drop me a line through this website.