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!
Edward Gregson’s Sarabande and Tarantella for recorder and orchestra, with a pastoral influenced section, the soloist sailing effortlessly above the accompaniment. The Tarantella is a virtuosic romp for the soloist, played with style and bravura by John Turner.
Adam J Dopadlik, Recorder Magazine
These two pieces work well as a short ‘suite’. The beautiful Sarabande, full of melancholy and introspection, is balanced by a vibrant Tarantella. This Italian dance was inspired by English artist JMW Turner. Any relation I wonder to the soloist?
MusicWeb International (October 2019)
Recorder, strings and percussion