Recollections, Book 1 (2009) - Nick Ray

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Recollections, Book 1 (2009) - Nick Ray


RECOLLECTIONS nos 1-6 for piano

Nick Ray

(dedicated to Tom Hain)

I wrote these six pieces in the spring of 2009. They are all short and dominated by one principal idea.

No. 1 (Some bells) combines four different layers of bell sounds on pitches G, Eb, C/E and G#) where each bell-note has a different duration, quickly creating a complex texture underneath which an urgent tune in sixths appears.

No. 2 (Dartmoor Aug 2005) is a reminiscence of a walk taken to High Willhayes (near Okehampton in Devon). A long melody gradually unfolds over a repeated rising 4-note chordal figure, briefly becoming quite animated as the extensive view is revealed at the summit.

No. 3 features a melody (in groups of acciaccature) which leans consistently on a simple drone that undergoes only slight changes during the piece. The mood is skittish and playful throughout and the piece disappears into the highest register on a repeated C.

No. 4 (Fanfare for the Uncommon Man) is a tribute to Aaron Copland. It uses the first three chords from the slow final movement of his Piano Sonata (1941). These are developed and short melodic phrases for a pair of trumpets also undergo their own expansion and extension, framed always by the chords.

No. 5 features a gentle and lyrical melody which uneasily coexists with a turbulent and aggressive lower part. The melody manages to preserve its independence to the end after the aggressive element has exhausted itself, but the tension between the two is never fully resolved. The main theme from the fifth movement of my string quartet is quoted at the culminating point.
No. 6 (...and still the light grew) is programmatic and based on the last three pages of the final chapter of C.S. Lewis’ allegory The Great Divorce, in which the ultimate terrifying dawn arrives, marking the end of time and eternal destruction for those unprepared. “The rim of sunrise that shoots Time dead with golden arrows and puts to flight all phantasmal shapes” is evoked by an A major chord spreading outwards and eventually covering the entire range. The narrator, overwhelmed with terror, suddenly finds the whole vision dissipating and collapsing and realises he has been dreaming. “I awoke in a cold room, hunched on the floor beside a black and empty grate, the clock striking three, and the siren howling overhead.”

Recollections 1-6 were first performed by Anthony Green at St Cyprian’s Church, Glentworth Street, London N1 on 9 October 2010.

Nick Ray

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