Quirbajou

composed for a music summer school in Castelnaudary, Occitanie, this piece for string orchestra, flutes and piano duet, dissects and reworks a song by the locally-born Baroque composer Etienne Moulinié (1599-1676). The piece takes its name from a tiny occitan village in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Escouloubre

a companion piece to Quirbajou, another occitan village in the audois mountains, also composed for students on a summer school. For keyboards, marimba and vibraphone. The musical material derived from a motet by Guillaume Bouzignac born in Saint-Nazaire-d'Aude in 1587.

Winter Leaves

a collection of 49 solo piano pieces composed in December to January 2011-12, one per day written without subsequent revisions. As with the numerous 19th century pieces called feuillet d'album, album leaf, or albumblatt, they don’t follow any prescribed form. It was the tradition that an ‘album leaf’ was for a friend rather than a publisher, to be inserted into an album of keepsakes. These ‘leaves’ are dedicated to musician and artist friends and the choice of dates was inspired by some passing thought, contact, phone call or email.

Mnong Gar

piano duet composed in 2016 for a French piano duo. There’s a programme note (in French) here

Arbor Low

the mysterious Neolithic henge monument, lies on a limestone plateau in Derbyshire. This piece was written for a piano concert Resonance exploring the connection between music and landscapes.

Cloudcuckooland

a piece that takes its title from the mythical city of birds as described by Aristophanes in The Birds, a comedy first produced in 414 B.C. A couple of middle-aged Athenians try to persuade the world's avian population to build a great city to occupy the space between the earth and the heavens and thereby controlling the capricious gods' meddling in human affairs, impregnating mortal women, prolonging wars, etc. One of the Athenians, Pisthetaerus, becomes their leader and is transformed into a bird-like figure, replacing Zeus as the primordial power in the cosmos.

The five movements are titled after various places mentioned in the play, in their mythical sense rather than their present-day geographical location. The piece isn't a setting of the play but rather a contemplation of the bird-city seen from different earthly perspectives.

The texts come from various translations of The Birds, notably those by Paul Muldoon (Gallery Press 1999) and Alan Sommerstein (Aris and Phillips 1987), the original Greek text read for me by Francesca Goudousaki, as well as John Beavis's extraordinary compendium of transliterations of bird song Aaaaaw to Zzzzzd: The Words of Birds (MIT Press 2010).