1equalmusic expands the catalogue with a survey of two-piano works by Adrian Jack, also known as a music critic, scriptwriter for the BBC, and director of the influential MusICA series. The pieces cover a wide range of character from bellicose brilliance to empyrean serenity, and they are played with intensity and total commitment by the duo Thorson & Thurber for whom most of the works were written.
Tia Maria (1994) was suggested by hearing an organ prelude by Saint-Saëns played at an unusually slow tempo, which destroyed its real character and made it seem like a minimalist piece. I have preserved the original accompaniment figuration, and transformed it with a new melodic element rather in the way Gounod’s Ave Maria transformed the first prelude of Bach’s ‘48’. Fling (1997) is a rousing Scottish dance, with the characteristic ‘Scotch Snap’ rhythm. In a concert programme it would proably come at the end, or even be played as a knockout encore. Hagar and the Angel (2001) was inspired by a small and magical painting by Claude Lorrain in London’s National Gallery and also evokes the solemnity of some of Olivier Messiaen’s music. Oriental (2002), which also exists as a bravura organ toccata, is a lightly ironic take on the genre, with distinctive plainchant elements and tiny peremptory fanfares. Wake Up! is permeated with the sound of bells and was written as a concert opener in 2003. The sound of bells is also heard in Between and Betwixt, which were written as a complementary pair in 2004 — a celebration of a long, happy partnership, between the two players, and between them and the composer. Finally, the title of Bleu céleste (2005) evokes one of the most famous pigments of Sèvres porcelain in a mood of empyrean serenity.
Adrian Jack © 2007