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<<  -- 4 --  Carolyn Nott    A HERMIT AT HEART

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Our second decade in America, during the nineties, saw us emerge gradually from the initial struggle to acclimatize ourselves and establish a secure financial footing without Gerard's film work as one of our main sources of income. We survived our first major earthquake in 1994, a terrifying event that shook the house with a deafening roar and flung its contents around like a poltergeist, causing total disorder and minor structural damage at four o'clock in the morning. That same year, Gerard went into hospital for a major operation. He recovered well, but it took time. Before the operation, he had received a commission from Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to write a Concerto for Orchestra [listen -- Le Grand Concert (Concerto for Orchestra)] for the occasion of the orchestra's centenary. It was performed at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh in March 1996 and many people, including those who have written about the subsequent Chandos CD of the work, performed by the BBC Philharmonic with Gerard conducting, have remarked on its fertile inventiveness and orchestral mastery. I remember that with health concerns behind him composition appeared to go smoothly, and Gerard was as happy and engrossed in his work as I had ever seen him. On the same CD is the Violin Concerto that he wrote in 1978 for Ruggiero Ricci's fiftieth jubilee as a solo violinist, a very different story in terms of its compositional progress, which took place over the course of four years.

Schurmann première recordings - Violin Concerto; Concerto for Orchestra. © 2002 Chandos Records
Schurmann première recordings - Violin Concerto; Concerto for Orchestra. © 2002 Chandos Records

Perhaps because we were more settled, and I was out of the house working, the nineties were fruitful years for Gerard's composition. New works included The Gardens of Exile [listen] for Cello and Orchestra, a commission from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra which premièred the work in Poole, Bristol and Southampton with Peter Rejto as soloist in 1990, and two Piano Quartets [listen, Quartet No 2, 1st movement] (the first dating back to 1986), both written for the Los Angeles Piano Quartet and premièred in the US almost a decade apart at the Tucson Winter Chamber Music Festival in Arizona. All three works are available on CD.

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Copyright © 19 January 2004 Carolyn Nott, Los Angeles, USA

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