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Sunday, June 9, 2013The Brontë pieces were
Bollington Festival Choir presents
Solo and choral songs and piano music by English composers inspired by poets including Emily Brontë and culminating in Parry's Blest Pair of Sirens.
with Angela Rowley soprano and James Pelham piano
St Oswald's Church, Bollington Road, SK10 5EG
Lines (with words by Emily Bronte) and Emily’s Piano, a solo piece inspired by hearing Emily’s own piano being played in the parsonage at Haworth.EDIT: The Brontë Parsonage website has some more information about the pieces:
A couple of years ago, I went to see the play 'Brontë' by Polly Teale at West Yorkshire Playhouse. Though I knew 'Jane Eyre' through film and play adaptations, I had never read any Brontë novels or given much thought to the three remarkable sisters, but was bowled over by the play and resolved to visit Haworth. The day I went, Maya Irgalina, a Belorussian pianist from the RNCM, was playing Emily’s recently restored cabinet piano. Listening to its sounds wafting through the Parsonage inspired Emily’s Piano.
'Emily’s Piano' is a set of variations. Polly Teale’s play presented Emily as the most unusual and headstrong of the three sisters, to me the most interesting, and research told me she was the most accomplished musician of the three. I imagined her getting her new piano and trying out not five-finger exercises starting on middle C, but a melody based on the initials of herself and her sisters, E B, C B, A B. In my mind, Emily immediately became an accomplished pianist, and also a composer or improviser – but a very unconventional one, breaking all the rules and driving her teacher to despair. The piece begins with a waltz, followed by other forms that would have been familiar in the first half of the nineteenth century, but which have quirky rhythms and harmonies that would have sounded very odd to Emily’s contemporaries. Many are modelled on Brahms – especially the Haydn Variations – though Brahms was only 15 when Emily died. A two-part invention inspired by Bach goes on a very wayward journey, and Emily allows herself a moment of sentimentality in a number that has a touch of Rachmaninoff about it before the finale (a chaconne on a ground bass derived from the ‘initials’) whirls us to a conclusion. (...) My setting of 'Lines' has distinct sections at different tempi, starting with a sort of slow chorale that is repeated several times, with the piano representing a harp, but playing arpeggios unobtainable on the harp. The final repetition differs in that the soprano soloist soars heavenward, accompanied by tinkling arpeggios, while those on earth remain firmly rooted there.