Variation a Day starts next week

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.

Variation for Judith
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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:

Image: The Demon Gin
Image: The Demon Gin

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.

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