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<<  -- 2 --  Keith Bramich    MADRIGAL COMEDY


Music by two contemporary composers began with an extract -- a taster only, leaving us curious for more -- of a madrigal by Mark Edgley Smith (born 1955) -- a sweet, simple, rather effective setting of words by e e cummings ... 'love is more thicker than forget / more thinner than recall / more seldom than a wave is wet / more frequent than to fail'. Edgley Smith's Five Madrigals to Poems by e e cummings won the Schola Cantorum of Oxford prize, with a first performance in March 1995.

Mark Edgley Smith. Photo: Dominic Hamilton / Cheltenham International Festival of Music
Mark Edgley Smith. Photo: Dominic Hamilton / Cheltenham International Festival of Music

His other vocal music includes the Vancouver Songbook, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, and widely performed by its dedicatees, the Vancouver Bach Children's Chorus. Edgley Smith lives locally, in Charleton Kings, and in 2001, the Cheltenham Festival commissioned a setting of Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky, given its first performance by members of the National Youth Orchestra, conducted by Peter Stark, with the Richard Pate School Choir and the performance poet Marcus Moore as narrator.

Adrian Williams Photo: Keith Bramich
Adrian Williams
Photo: Keith Bramich

I Fagiolini's collaboration with composer, pianist and M&V contributor Adrian Williams (born 1956) dates back at least to 1989, when Williams wrote his Longing Songs for the group. Another I Fagiolini commission from Williams -- A Smile and Ashes (1994) -- has since become their most performed contemporary work. They've had to wait eight years for more from the same pen, and this new work, Out in the jungle (a 2002 Cheltenham Festival commission) has obviously been worth the wait. The composer writes :

'Out in the jungle had a long gestation period. In fact it was about ten years ago that I stumbled upon a box of letters dating from the late 1960s to the late 70s in the attic of a house I'd just bought in London. Study revealed them to have been sent by members of a fraternity of mostly gay theatre guys and models, including some black Americans, who may have lived in that house, containing highly characteristic writing, explicit feelings and thoughts, and giving a strong flavour of that world as it was in those days. The fact they're well within living memory gives them special poignancy. So it had been in my mind to use the material in some musical way for quite some years. This commission for I Fagiolini seemed the perfect opportunity to bang the dust (quite literally) off the idea.'

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Copyright © 9 July 2002 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK





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