My great friend Nic said she would love to know more about what inspired certain pieces of my music or how they were created. So here is the first 'Insight':
MIND MOVES - a one-movement piece for String Quartet.
It was written whilst I was a nineteen-year-old student at Hull University. I remember the Allegri String Quartet had come to our Music Faculty and led various workshops on string orchestra repertoire. I had led the cello section in our string orchestra for some of these. Elgar's Introduction and Allegro for Strings... I'm sure there was another. String-playing friends from that time will remember.
Anyway, they commissioned a string quartet and I was very happy to hear them play the finished piece. I still have the recording. The lovely Bruno Schrecker was the cellist. He was like a cuddly old Grandfather; witty, dynamic, a giggler and such a passionate player. What a joy to hear him!
Back to the piece....
It was started, I remember vividly, whilst sitting on a rug in Pearson Park, Hull. You know....Philip Larkin. Toads etc. It seemed a good place to be inspired. We loved that park. Autumnal breezy days, walking through the trees to Park Road, to go and hang out and listen to Nick Drake records, only to walk back home realising light was starting to come up at four in the morning. Summer nights spent drinking wine and playing trivial pursuit, al fresco, only to wonder, years later why there were dried old leaves in the box. Rainy showers spent sheltering under a tree. The duck-pond and the ice-cream van.
So MIND MOVES will always be Pearson Park.
The piece owes at least a nod to the great twentieth-century traditions of English string-writing (Elgar, Frank Bridge, Britten, Finzi), harking back in some ways, whilst forging new paths for me harmonically and in a minimalist style. I remember certain passages coming in for criticism and being advised to re-write (not by my beloved Alan Laing, I hasten to add - the lecturer who understood what I was doing and where I was going), but I yearned to leave it. My style was becoming ever-more concrete and this was an important piece for me. I did leave it...
(The recording will appear soon, meanwhile the score and parts are available. )
I promise that the manuscript won't be covered in dried old leaves....