Julian Bream Trust Concert 2015 – Julian Anderson première

Laura Snowden © Robert Piwko

A NEW WORK FOR SOLO GUITAR, Catalan Peasant with Guitar by the British composer Julian Anderson, will be premièred by Laura Snowden at the annual Julian Bream Trust Concert to be held on Saturday 21 November 2015 at Wigmore Hall, London.

Julian Bream is continuing his legacy of expanding the contemporary classical guitar repertoire by commissioning composers to write solo guitar works but is now choosing young performers to première them and – if I might be allowed to borrow an accolade from another internationally admired figure with an unassailable reputation and the same JB initials … yes, James Bond! – when it comes to commissioning new repertoire for the guitar: ‘Nobody Does It Better* than Julian Bream!

Julian Bream established The Julian Bream Trust in 2008 and has also commissioned: Sonata No 5: Ars Combinatoria (2013) from Leo Brouwer and Construction with Guitar Player: Beyond the White Hand (2013) from Sir Harrison Birtwistle, both of which were premièred by Andrey Lebedev on 4 December 2014 at St John’s, Smith Square, London.

The recital by Laura Snowden on Saturday 21 November 2015 also features works that Julian Bream has strong connections with: Sonatina, Op.52 No.1 (1957) by Lennox Berkeley, Nocturnal after John Dowland, Op.70 (1963) by Benjamin Britten, Segovia Op.29 (1925) by Albert Roussel, Fantasia (1957) by Roberto Gerhard, Quatre Pièces Brèves (1933) by Frank Martin, Homenaje: pour le tombeau de Claude Debussy (1920) by Manuel de Falla, Suite Compostelana (1962) by Federico Mompou, and the world première of Catalan Peasant with Guitar by Julian Anderson, which commissioned by The Julian Bream Trust.

Julian Anderson writes:

Catalan Peasant with Guitar is the title of a large blue painting by Joan Miro. Against an intensely varied blue wash, the viewer can discern a few salient features: a thin black diagonal line ending in what might be a hand holding a plectrum, a triangular shape emblematic of the guitar, a thin vertical line representing the main torso of the performer, a pipe with a cloud of tobacco smoke evaporating around it, and near the top a small orange shape signifying the Catalan national hat. The painting is bold, sharp and startlingly direct.

My work attempts to encapsulate in sound the direct and fierce mood of the painting. The slow second section … is characterised by a special feature: the G string of the guitar is gradually retuned during the music until it is 1⁄4-tone flat. This new tuning allows the guitarist to simulate the natural tuning of the overtone series, and increases the rich resonances of the instrument. The extra colours of these new resonances are exploited throughout the slow section which is by turns bell-like, meditative, lyrical, and impassioned.

 an allusion is made twice to the Catalan folksong ‘El Cotilo’ in homage to Roberto Gerhard (it was a tune much beloved of Gerhard and originally collected by his teacher Pedrell).

Catalan Peasant with Guitar was commissioned by Julian Bream on behalf of the Julian Bream Trust. It was written in close consultation with both Mr. Bream and the brilliant young guitarist Laura Snowden who gives the first performance tonight. It is dedicated with gratitude and admiration to Julian Bream.

Laura Snowden writes:

Every composer featured in this concert speaks in his own unique musical voice; the result is eight pieces of startling originality, and a musical journey through diverse expressive and spiritual spaces.  To enter these spaces and to share in the journey with an audience at the Wigmore Hall is a joy and a privilege. Julian Anderson’s new work is remarkable, and it has been thrilling to witness the composition of such a significant new piece and to be involved in music that is being created at this very moment in time.

Apart from commissioning new repertoire, The Julian Bream Trust also provides scholarships for exceptionally gifted students of either the classical guitar or lute at: the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Laura Snowden has received financial support from The Julian Bream Trust throughout her post-graduate studies at the Royal College of Music. After studying at the Yehudi Menuhin School, she attended the Royal College of Music, where she completed her Masters Degree with distinction. As a composer, her music has been played on BBC Radio 3 and premièred at Sadler’s Wells, the Deal Festival and the Handel House.

There will be a pre-concert talk given by Julian Anderson and Julian Bream at 6pm before the  Wigmore Hall concert on Saturday 21 November 2015 at 7.30pm. Concert tickets are available at Wigmore Hall

© Thérèse Wassily Saba 2015

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