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Harrison Birtwistle: new scores published for 85th birthday year
The 85th birthday year of Harrison Birtwistle has brought the release of a range of his scores, published for the first time, ranging from orchestral and chamber works to music for piano and guitar.
A selection of nine new publications of music by Harrison Birtwistle demonstrates the range of his output, from large-scale orchestral works to intimate chamber miniatures. The Boosey & Hawkes editions are available on sale for the first time, joining the celebrations for the composer in his 85th birthday year.
Two major works have joined the prestigious Hawkes Pocket Scores series: Responses and Deep Time. Scored for piano and orchestra, Responses bears the subtitle Sweet Disorder and the Carefully Careless, taken from an essay by Princeton architect Robert Maxwell which the composer views as summing up "the essence of what I'm doing". The work, dating from 2014, is the second by Birtwistle to focus on the piano as soloist, and was written for Pierre-Laurent Aimard who has done much to champion the composer's music.
December brings the publication of Deep Time, the third part of an orchestral triptych spanning more than 30 years of the composer's output, following on from The Triumph of Time and Earth Dances. The 20-minute score developed out of ideas penned by the 18th century Scottish geologist James Hutton who, according to Birtwistle, "proposed that the processes of rock erosion, sedimentation and formation have ‘no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end’, a state of perpetual change I’ve always been interested in." First performances were conducted by Daniel Barenboim in 2017 with the Staatskapelle Berlin at the Konzerthaus and at the BBC Proms in London.
The Woman and the Hare is a dramatic scena for soprano, narrator and ensemble, setting a text by David Harsent. Natural moonlit imagery shifts to violence as a hare is caught in a field of burning chaff, with the line jumping back and forth between lyrical soprano and rhythmic narrator. 5 Lessons in a Frame combines a sequence of chamber miniatures with ritornelli for ensemble. Written for the London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Musikfabrik, the score is a showcase of instrumental virtuosity, now appearing in full score format for the first time.
Alongside Responses, piano is also profiled in a collection of Birtwistle keyboard pieces, newly available on sale. Four miniatures are collected together in a volume including Ostinato with Melody, Betty Freeman: Her Tango, Saraband: The King's Farewell and the Oockooing Bird, while a further publication combines Variations from the Golden Mountain and Gigue Machine.
Birtwistle's Bogenstrich, a collection of miniature meditations centred on Rilke's Liebes-Lied, combines voice, cello and piano and appears as a score with cello part. The three pieces for cello and piano - Lied ohne Worte, Variationen and Wie eine Fuge - are also available in a separate publication. Julian Bream acted as consultant editor for the new score of Beyond the White Hand, Birtwistle's 'Construction with Guitar Player', an important addition to the repertoire for the instrument dating from 2014.
The new Harrison Birtwistle scores are available from The Shop at Boosey.com and all good music shops.
for piano and orchestra
(available December 2019)
The Woman and the Hare
for soprano, narrator and ensemble
Text by David Harsent
5 Lessons in a Frame
for 13 players
4 Piano Pieces
Variations / Gigue Machine
for voice, cello and piano
Score and cello part
3 Pieces from Bogenstrich
for cello and piano
Beyond the White Hand
> Further information on Work: Deep Time
Photo: Boosey & Hawkes