Recollections Book III (2015) [piano] - Nick Ray

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Recollections Book III (2015) [piano] - Nick Ray



These six pieces follow the same scheme as the previous books. No.1 is a ‘mechanism’ piece, no.2 is a landscape evocation, no.3 a light-fingered scherzo, no.4 a tribute to a favourite composer, no.5 a dramatic and aggressive conflict between irreconcilable elements, and no.6 a ‘programme’ piece with a direct literary inspiration.

No. 1 (A view of the A228 near Chattenden in Kent) is a kind of perpetuum mobile in which a continued flow of quavers forms a melody whose phrases expand and contract in length according to the well-known ‘Golden ratio’ (2:3:5:8:13 etc). The tonality of C major is strongly implied in the piece, and boldly asserted at the end. Just before the close, the bell ostinato for the next piece is quoted (the village of Upper Stoke lies just south of the A228).

No. 2 (Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul, Upper Stoke) imitates the distinctive three-note peal of bells from this small 12th century church which stands exposed on a bleak slope leading down to the Medway estuary. It is not exactly a conventionally pretty location, being almost in the shadow of Kingsnorth Power Station, but I have long had an attraction to this area and have written other pieces inspired by it.

No.3 (River Anton, near Fullerton, Hampshire) was inspired by the sight of several tiny whirlpools that were constantly forming and dissipating on a bend in the river. As they moved downstream they intensified, some overtaking others – only to be swallowed up in the turbulence beyond the bridge.

No.4 (Epitaph for Alexander Borodin) pays homage to a favourite composer. It quotes the opening motif from the first movement of his B minor Symphony (no.2) and develops it contrapuntally before closing in the same majestic manner in which it began.

No.5 is dark and turbulent. It is meant to be a musical counterpart to the well-known poem by Matthew Arnold ‘Dover Beach’. The ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar’ is audible in the texture where the melody is in unison at the edges of the keyboard and a pulsating chordal figure continues in the centre.

No. 6 is based on a section from the short story by M R James (A Neighbour’s Landmark). The narrator is on an evening walk in the countryside and, filled with pleasant thoughts, watches the sun set. No sooner has the light vanished than the whole countryside acquires a more sombre character, and his pleasant thoughts are instantly replaced by grim and morbid ones. The piece ends in an atmosphere of quiet and despondent darkness.
The pieces were first performed by David Brain at the John Savage Centre, Hainault, July 25th 2015

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1 performance.

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