Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
Fantasy for violin and harp op.124
Paul Hanmer (*1961)
Michael Blake (*1951)
Leaf Carrying Song (1991; rev. 2002)(transcribed for violin & harp, 2011)
Toshio Hosokawa (*1955)
Yasutaka Hemmi (*1971)
Miminashi Hoichi Fantasy
Ringtones for violin & cellphone
Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
Potpourri on themes from Mozart’s Magic Flute op.114
Michio Miyagi (1894-1956)
Haru no Umi
Takashi Tokunaga (*1973)
Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)
Camille Saint-Saëns – Fantasy for violin and harp op 124
This is one of the most important pieces of the violin and harp repertoire. French composer Camille Saint-Saëns composed this single movement fantasy in 1907. The work consists of five parts. Saint-Saëns is clever enough to understand and make perfect use of the double-action pedal harp, which was still a new instrument in that period. One of the compositional challenges is the use of the Gregorian mode and the whole tone scale.
Paul Hanmer – Mkhize’s 50th
The writing of this piece started on the day that pianist Themba Mkhize chose to celebrate his 50th birthday- two days ahead of the actual event, as it turns out- on 7 April 2007. The main groove texture for harp was written then, as well as the opening phrases for the violin. The piece was finished in Visby on the island of Gotland in early December 2007. My sincere thanks to Marc Uys for his really persistent but quiet techniques of persuasion.
Michael Blake – Leaf Carrying Song
Leaf Carrying Song is something of a companion piece to the earlier Honey Gathering Song (1989; rev. 1999) for flute and piano. Both belong to my loosely collected African Journal, containing all of the African-inspired music I wrote during the two decades I lived in Europe (1977-1997). South African guitarist Simon Wynberg, now artistic director of ARC in Toronto, wanted a piece he could perform with his oboe (and flute) duo partners on both sides of the Atlantic; he also wanted a piece that exploited the sonority of the 10-string guitar. While I chose the oboe d’amore as the melody instrument for Leaf Carrying Song specifically because of its gentler overall sound and its dark lower register, the piece can be played on the standard oboe as well as the flute, just as the guitar part may be played on a standard 6-string guitar. While the guitar sometimes accompanies, more often than not the instruments are treated as equal participants in the musical narrative. Like a number of my pieces since the early 1990s, this one uses a Stravinskian mosaic type of structure built up from varied interlocking materials; and it has a similarity to the fractured narrative found in the novel and in film, for example.
Pieces with titles like Leaf Carrying Song (or Honey Gathering Song) can be found among the music of the pygmy communities in Central Africa, but while I do make use of African materials and compositional techniques, generally filtered or paraphrased, there is no direct reference to pygmy music in this piece. Although I wrote the work in 1991 it was never performed at the time; in 2002 I revised the work for a possible premiere performance in Canada. The first performance eventually took place on 2 November 2008 in the ZK Matthews Hall, Pretoria, with Kobus Malan (oboe) and Michal George (guitar). Leaf Carrying Song was commissioned by the Arts Council of Great Britain for Simon Wynberg, to whom it is dedicated. While working in Sweden last August, I made this transcription at the request of my good friend Yas Hemmi. The piece lasts about 9 minutes.
Toshio Hosokawa – Two Pieces
Toshio Hosokawa was born in Hiroshima in 1955. He has been introducing Japanese philosophy and sense to the world through his music. In these two short pieces the music is not only audible in the notes but also in the silence.
Yasutaka Hemmi – Miminashi Hoichi Fantasy
‘Miminashi Hoichi’ is a tale of a blind biwa player called Hoichi. According to the story, the ghost of a samurai tears off his ears. In this piece one can hear the sound of the biwa, as well as follow the story of ‘Heike Monogatari’ (old story about a war) which traces Hoichi’s feelings and experiences.
Michael Blake – Ringtones (2006) for violin & cellphone
The idea of writing a piece for Yasutaka Hemmi originated during a visit he made to Johannesburg in 2005 for a performance of David Young’s Skin Quartet and my String Quartet No 1 on the final stop of a world tour. The concept for the piece originated after that performance during a late night party at The Ant (in Melville, Johannesburg). The musical material is derived in part from the score for Aryan Kaganof’s SMS Sugar Man (the first feature film to be shot entirely on cellphone cameras), and is inspired by Yas’s effortless virtuosity. The ringtone, appropriately used as a ‘leitmotif’ in the movie, is the one that was activated on my cellphone in 2006 (downloadable free at www.michaelblake.co.za). The cellphone conversations are spontaneous. Ringtones lasts about 6 minutes.
Louis Spohr – Potpourri on themes from Mozart’s Magic Flute op.114
The German composer, violinist and conductor Louis Spohr wrote many pieces for violin and harp for himself and his wife. This piece is the second movement from his ‘Sonata Concertante op.114’ and presents a medley from Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’. X[iksa] plays this original version for contemporary instruments.
Michio Miyagi – Haru no Umi
This piece was composed for shakuhachi and koto by Michio Miyagi. He got inspiration from the Tomonoura beach in spring. One can hear the sounds of the Japanese beach and the sea gulls. In Japanese, Haru means spring and Umi is the sea.
Takashi Tokunaga – Funauta
Takashi Tokunaga was born in Hiroshima in 1973. This piece is a variation on a traditional folk song theme from Hiroshima. It consists of seven parts. The traditional Japanese melody is subjected to contemporary techniques.
Pablo de Sarasate – Zigeunerweisen op.20
‘Zigeunerweisen’ (Gypsy Airs) was written in 1878 by the Spanish composer and virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate. It is based on melodies of the Roma people, specifically the rhythms of the csárdás. X[iksa] has arranged what was originally an orchestral work as a chamber piece for violin and harp.
This concert is endorsed by the Embassy of Japan.