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World Premiere Wednesday: Luke Lewis

Our monthly World Premiere Wednesday series continues with a new piece for violin duo by Luke Lewis, premiered online by principal violin Jonathan Morton and Clio GouldThe composer will join us live for a conversation after the performance.

Luke Lewis  Shrove Duos (pre-recorded)
JS Bach  Preludio from Partita No 3 in E major
Cheryl Frances-Hoad  Adagietto from Suite No 1

Jonathan Morton  violin
Clio Gould  violin

Programme notes

Shrove Duos

These are duos for any two melody instruments. A Welsh folksong, 'The Pancake Song', recorded in Aberdaron, Caernarvonshire is the inspiration for the first three parts which were premiered together first. I made a detailed transcription of a performance of this song by ‘Williams the Postman’ (b.1899) collected in 1964. At first listen it's a funny little jaunt, a person asking for ingredients for a pancake. But it doesn't take much to sense the humour as darkly comic and illuminating the poverty of the time and place. This resonants with me with the present times of coronavirus. The text is as follows:

Woman of the house and good family,
Please may I have a pancake?
Mother is too poor to buy flour
And Father too lazy to work.
Please may I have a pancake?
My mouth is dry for want of a pancake.
If there is no butter in the house
Put a large spoonful of treacle,
And if there is no treacle in the house
Give a terribly large pancake.
Terribly, terribly.

Luke Lewis

Preludio from Partita No 3 in E major

The Partita No 3 in E major for solo violin is the last work in J.S. Bach's set of Six Sonatas and Partitas, with the opening Preludio being the most commonly recorded. The Preludio was also transcribed by Bach for us in two cantatas: the sinfonia which opens the second part of the 1729 cantata Herr Gott, Beherrscher aller Dinge, BWV 120a, and the opening sinfonia of the 1731 cantata Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir, BWV 29.

Adagietto from Suite No 1

Suite No. 1 was commissioned by Fenella Humphreys as part of her Bach to the Future project to commission six British composers to write new solo works in response to J.S. Bach's Sonatas and Partitas. My work is inspired by Bach's Partita No. 3 in E major BWV 1006, but rather than base my work on any specific motives or harmonies, I simply listened and listened to the Bach, identified what really appealed to me, then tried to forget Bach's music and write a work which had similar feelings, melodic shapes and moods, or that employed a similar striking violin technique (for example). For instance, the first movement is based around the open e string, as it was the joyful 'e-ness' of Bach's first movement which really struck me. In other movements I tried to recreate the energy, phrasing and poise of various parts of the Bach, and one movement features a drone all the way through (where as in the Bach this only appears briefly). Cheryl Frances-Hoad

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Published: 25 Feb 2021