My oratorio Prayerbook had a terrific performance for our recording in Romsey Abbey on September 14th. Matt Ward has designed an excellent flyer which will feature as the CD cover – click on Prayerbook to see it.
Percy Sherwood’s Cello Music (TOCC 0145) was launched with a grand party at Gresham College, where Joseph Spooner & I gave the British premiere of the Second Sonata.
Louise Williams & I have finished editing our two-disc set of English viola music for EM Records. Premiere recordings of pieces by McEwen, Maconchy, Robin Milford & Gordon Jacob, plus Bax, Rawsthorne & Leighton. Out next month.
My record of Roger Quilter’s piano music got a double-five-star review in the BBC Music Magazine (see Reviews). I renewed my acquaintance with Quilter’s piano (see Gallery) in Jumbo’s concert hall in France in August. (That’s David Wilson-Johnson – you can see him in the Gallery too!)
Two more of the fantasy iPod programmes that I make with Elizabeth Burke for Radio 4 have been broadcast this summer – Shakespeare & James Joyce. You can read Gillian Reynolds’s Telegraph piece about them in the Reviews section. Three more programmes have been commissioned for next year. Other recent broadcasts include Building a Library on Chopin mazurkas, and a live broadcast from the National Portrait Gallery, playing music by Mozart, Howells, Parry & Poulenc. That was on a modern Fazioli: other recitals this year have been on Broadwood pianos of 1800, 1828 & 1870, and, in Rotterdam, an Erard of 1900. A fascinating piano, with the lower strings wound with brass, not copper, and the low G to be found in music by Ravel, Poulenc, and our very own Sir Arnold Bax. Food for thought, so watch this space.
Since April, I’ve given lecture-recitals on Messiaen in the Easter Festival at King’s College, Cambridge, on Elgar at St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, on Dickens at the Royal Academy of Music, on Constant Lambert at the Royal College of Music, and on Musical Sussex at Chichester Cathedral. I played music related to Lawrence Sterne at Shandy Hall, the novelist’s Yorkshire home, and music related to Dickens in Hardelot, where he maintained his mistress in modest style. Gabriel Woolf devised a fantastic programme of readings, and Dame Felicity Lott & I added the music. That whole story of Dickens’s mistress, which I first came across when we made Dickens’s iPod (broadcast on Christmas Day 2010, and repeated on New Year’s Eve 2011), is very controversial in England. But in Hardelot, everyone seems to know it as a fact of folk-memory. The Gallery contains pictures of the house (known there as ‘the Love Nest’), and one of Dickens’s kitchen sink. Oh, and the nearby grave of Dickens’s landlord, with a touching epitaph to which he might have added the adjective ‘discreet’.
My current projects include the first professional production since 1836 of Dickens’s opera The Village Coquettes (Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, October 26th) and Bach transcriptions with OUP. This autumn Sir John Tomlinson & I are giving more performances of our Michaelangelo programme, with music by Britten, Shostakovich & Wolf, before recording it for Chandos.
And, to conclude this round-up of what I’m doing, my Symphony will be premiered in the English Music Festival next May.