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Contemplations A4 z 2 21 741
Contemplations A4 z 2 29 749
Contemplations A4 z 2 30 750


for bass-baritone and viola

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Estimated Duration
6 - 10min

ISMN : 979-0-2325-2014-8

Notes on this piece

Contemplations was created on Sound and Music's Embedded programme

as part of the Embedded: Radio 3's Composer in 3 project and premiered

in collaboration with BBC Radio 3.

Recorded by Ashley Riches and Sarah-Jane Bradley. First broadcast on 10

October 2016.

A performing score for the voice, with the viola part notated in treble clef

for easy reference, is available on request.


The choice of texts and musical concept for this piece were inspired by

the Kafka Fragments for violin and soprano by György Kurtág.

The idea of composing a response to Kurtág's beautiful song cycle came

to me very early on while preparing to write the ten weekly short works

for my BBC Residency. A true master of the musical miniature, somehow

Kurtág can summon entire worlds within the shortest spans. Indeed,

many of the short movements that make his Kafka Fragments use only a

few words of text and last 30 seconds or less, yet each one somehow

achieves incredible profundity, and absolutely captures the wide range of

emotional and mental states found in the brief excerpts from Kafka's

writings that he uses.

The scoring of my piece, viola and bass-baritone, is intended as a kind of

darkened reflection of Kurtág's violin and soprano.The lower range of the

voice and instrument lends a slightly more sombre, perhaps more mellow

tone, to the music; the opportunity to work with one of the BBC's New

Generation Artists, Ashley Riches, certainly influenced me when choosing

this unusual pairing, but as I began to choose the texts, all of which have

a rather brooding quality, it seemed somehow fitting.

In addition to my admiration for Kurtág, Kafka has also always been very

important to me too. Reading The Trial as a teenager was a life-changing

experience; it was perhaps my first real taste of the power of modern

literature to convey the sense of alienation and existential angst that so

much early twentieth century art does, and it was a pleasure to get to

know some of his lesser known writings in researching for this piece.

Baritone voice|Viola
Score Details
Format - A4 / US Letter
Pages - 20

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