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Haworth Hodgkinson

Haworth Hodgkinson


Whistling Duck on a Billabong

Sunday 5 August 2012

This first selection from my stint as guest presenter on Elaine May Smith's show in August 2012 begins with a pair of collaborations featuring the Kronos Quartet. I had been talking about Kronos with the writer and music commentator Mark Pithie, so these were for him.

First there's a track in which the Kronos Quartet joins the Romanian band Taraf de Haïdouks, then they are joined by the speaking voice of Paul Hillier in a piece by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, who celebrated his 80th birthday in 2012. Though not well known in the UK, perhaps because of his 19-letter surname, Gudmundsen-Holmgreen is a highly influential figure in Denmark, with a distinctive style of his own. This excerpt from Moving Still, written for the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary in 2005, uses a futuristic text in which Andersen, writing in 1852, envisages that one day Americans will be able to fly over the Atlantic and "do Europe in a week".

Next to Australia, and a piece by Peter Sculthorpe. He has made many arrangements of a traditional aboriginal song from Arnhem Land called Djilile, about a whistling duck on a billabong. This version is for percussion ensemble.

One of the world's finest contemporary harpsichordists, Elisabeth Chojnacka visited Aberdeen for the Sound Festival in 2012, and to mark her visit I included a recording in which she plays the piece György Ligeti wrote for her.

Sephardic music — the music of the Jewish diaspora expelled from Spain in the late 15th century who subsequently settled in many different lands around the Mediterranean, the Balkans, the Middle-East and beyond — has long been a fascination of mine. My poem Bosnian Lullaby was based on a fusion of two Balkan-Sephardic lullabies in translation, and in this show I included one of the originals sung by Esther Lamandier to her own harp accompaniment.

Those who know my own performances will not be surprised that I chose to include a piece of recorder music. Fade Control by Fulvio Caldini is for a quartet of big square recorders.

I inherited a liking for the music of Chris Barber and Monty Sunshine from my father. There seems to be some uncertainty over which of them wrote Hushabye, which features Monty Sunshine as soloist with members of the Chris Barber Band.

If you only know John Paul Jones as the bass player in Led Zeppelin you might be very surprised by his Amores Passados, a set of Spanish songs he wrote for the vocal group Red Byrd and the instrumentalists of Tragicomedia in 1989. The song I played here, No Dormia, sets a poem by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer that captures perfectly the surreal thoughts that haunt the borderlands between sleep and wakefulness.

My first selection concludes with a track from the first contemporary jazz record I ever bought, in which John Surman characteristically pushes the boundaries of what might be called jazz, aided and abetted by singer Karin Krog, drummer Pierre Favre, and some electronic wizardry that still sounds fresh thirty years on.


Sapo Perapaskero
Turceasca (arr. Osvaldo Golijov) (rec. 1999)
[Taraf de Haïdouks; Kronos Quartet]


Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
Moving Still (exc.) (2004)
[Paul Hillier, baritone; Kronos Quartet]


Peter Sculthorpe
Djilile (1990)
[Synergy Percussion]


György Ligeti
Hungarian Rock (1978)
[Elisabeth Chojnacka, harpsichord]


Trad. Balkan/Sephardic
Durme mi angelico (rec. 1984)
[Esther Lamandier, voice & harp]


Fulvio Caldini
Fade Control (exc.) (1990)
[Amsterdam Loeki Stardust Quartet]


Chris Barber / Monty Sunshine
Hushabye (1956)
[Monty Sunshine, clarinet; Chris Barber Band]


John Paul Jones
No Dormia from Amores Passados (1989)
[Red Byrd; Tragicomedia]


John Surman
Saturday Night from Such Winters of Memory (1982)
[Karin Krog, voice; John Surman, reeds & synthesisers; Pierre Favre, drums]

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