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Oliver Davis (b1972)

Flight

Kerenza Peacock (violin) Detailed performer information
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Recording details: Various dates
Various recording venues
Produced by Oliver Davis & Sophia Pagoni
Engineered by Various engineers
Release date: March 2015
Total duration: 49 minutes 49 seconds
 

Flight is the stunning new album of works from British composer Oliver Davis (b1972), composed for and in collaboration with violinist Kerenza Peacock. The spirit of movement and energy present in many of Davis’s compositions has led to frequent collaborations with groups such as the Royal Ballet—and a great number of TV commissions. Here these works are performed by Kerenza alongside the London Symphony Orchestra under conductor Paul Bateman.

Awards

MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL RECORD OF THE MONTH (MARCH 2015)

Reviews

'This is music for when you simply want to enjoy music. This is a disc for anyone who avoids contemporary music because they think that it’s all dissonant and angry. I'd even say that it's an album that would be appreciated by those who don't like classical music' (MusicWeb International)» More

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I first met Kerenza in October 2012 at the premiere of a work I had written for piano called The Calm, The Storm. Kerenza mentioned that she played regularly with London-based string groups and asked whether I would be interested in writing a piece for violin and strings. I agreed and the following week set about composing some ideas. My initial sketch was a combination of a flowing violin melody combined with syncopated string arpeggios which gave it an airborne feel. This short idea became the opening of the first movement of Flight.

It was important to both of us that I didn’t simply present the final piece as completed manuscript; she needed to be involved from the outset. So we met regularly to review sections that I had written and I had the opportunity to discover what Kerenza preferred musically, which helped ensure that the piece was specifically suited to her sound. Tailoring a piece for a musician gives an added depth when the work is performed. Movement by movement the work grew until the five movements were formed by Spring 2013.

Kerenza suggested to Ivor Setterfield that his group, Trafalgar Sinfonia, should perform the premiere, which took place the following November at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The response from the audience encouraged me to turn the concerto into a concept album based around solo violin accompanied by strings whilst maintaining the theme of flight. I commenced composing a second large scale five-movement work, Voyager, based on the extraordinary journey of the NASA probe. After writing some additional shorter works the music was completed in January 2014. I contacted the London Symphony Orchestra and managed to find a day they were available in their hectic schedule. I arranged the recording to take place at Air Lyndhurst in London, conducted by Paul Bateman and engineered by Jake Jackson. We were very fortunate in that Kerenza had been loaned a Stradivarius violin for the sessions. And for the Voyager recording we were joined by pianist Huw Watkins. Owing to the way I had orchestrated the pieces I had to arrange the orchestra in a unique fashion: the principals of first and second violins and cello sections needed their own desk in front of their section as they would have to be partially isolated in the movements where they played their own part separately from the rest of the section. This would create a chamber group within a chamber orchestra and thus build the multi-layered texture that forms much of my string writing.

The penultimate work on the album is Airborne Dances. This was written in Spring 2014 and we decided as a novelty to multitrack Kerenza on different violins to create the string section (with the added help of four additional musicians on violas, cello and double bass). The experiment took place at Air Edel studios where we set out the studio as if to record a live string section. Kerenza played every single violin line on a different seat, playing a different violin for each part, thereby creating a totally unique sound. She was kindly loaned a Stradavari, a Guadagnini, a Goffriller, a Grancino and a Fendt by violin dealers Ingles and Hayday.

Oliver Davis 2014

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