Sarabande and Tarantella


Programme Note

In 2016 I composed two miniatures, both dedicated to friends: the first was written in fond memory of the composer John McCabe, who sadly died before his time; whilst the second was written as a belated 70th birthday present for the recorder player John Turner.

They were originally written for recorder and piano, but in 2018 I orchestrated them for a recording made in 2018, and at the same time re-titled the work. The Sarabande (sub-titled John’s Farewell) is a short, simple, but wistful. John loved Italian and French music and this little piece has something of the French musical Impressionists about it, with its modal harmonies underpinning a quasi-baroque melodic line.

The Tarantella (sub-titled Mr.Turner’s Tarantella) has a double meaning: in one sense it is of course a fast Italian dance which suits the virtuosic agility of the recorder very well, as it does JT’s ‘molto vivace’ personality; but I also imagined it being played in the background during one of the many visits to Italy by the great English artist JMW Turner – hence the brief quote from Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony. There is also a ‘slightly tipsy’ middle section, a physical state that I imagine the artist was sometimes in. Anyway, it’s a case of two Turner’s for the price of one!

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Work Details

  • Date of Composition: 2018
  • Publisher:
  • Genre:
  • Duration: 5'
  • Instrumentation: Recorder, strings and percussion