As a lead-in to the recital in March of the complete Variations for Judith, I’ll be launching the set with a performance each week-day of one of the variations, together with the original aria, Bist du bei mir, on which they are based starting on Weds 18 February.
Variations for Judith comprises eleven beautiful responses to the aria from a collection of contemporary composers including Tarik O’Regan, Judith Weir, Richard Rodney Bennett, Jonathan Dove and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies; the set was originally written as a leaving-present for Judith Serota on her departure as Head of Spitalfields Festival in 2007, and embraces a wonderfully inventive series of reflections – from the distant bell-ringing of Stephen Johns’ piece to the witty variation by Judith Weir which sees the left-hand blundering into a sprightly, dancing right hand and being soundly chastised; Tarik O’Regan’s variation moves in contemplative, pointillist fashion through an expansion of the melodic line across several octaves, illuminated at intervals by colourful, jewel-like, chords, whilst Richard Rodney Bennett’s would not sound out of place adorning the soundtrack to Downton Abbey.
Here’s Melvyn Tan performing Judith Weir’s playful variation, followed by Jonathan Dove’s rhapsodic response:
The daily variations take place on the foyer-stage at 1.15pm each weekday from Weds 18 Feb – Tues 3 March, and I’ll be performing the set as a whole on Weds 4 March in a lunchtime recital at 1.10pm in the concert-hall that also includes pieces by Satie, Amy Beach and the UK premiere of the Bill Evans-esque Unicorn in Rainbows by Alison Wrenn. Details about these events online here.