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Haworth Hodgkinson

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Kashmir to Shakespeare

Sunday 12 August 2012


My second programme for Smith on Sunday on Mearns FM in August 2012 begins its journey for no very obvious reason with a bit of 1940s boogie-woogie piano from Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons before catapulting us to the troubled lands of Kashmir. I remember Madhur Jaffrey writing that in Kashmir, Hindus cook with asafoetida and do not use garlic, whereas Muslims cook with garlic and won't touch asafoetida. No wonder there is unrest if people can't even sit down and eat together. At least in music Hindus and Muslims can and do come together. Here we hear the closing moments of a performance of Rag Madhuvanti played on the santoor, a kind of hammered dulcimer particularly associated with Kashmir, by Shivkumar Sharma, accompanied on tabla by Zakir Hussain.

The writer Mark Pithie had asked me to include something featuring the Hilliard Ensemble in the programme, and I chose a piece by Gavin Bryars that has its origins in the music he wrote for a production of the Tennessee Williams play Summer and Smoke.

Next comes a movement from a symphony by the teenaged Mozart in a performance from Trevor Pinnock that brings out all its Sturm und Drang angst.

I make no apology for including György Ligeti again, even though he was in my first programme. The Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet were adapted from a set of eleven piano pieces he had written in the early 1950s, and this one shows Ligeti's characteristic blend of wit and beauty.

A couple of dedications follow. I played part of Jonty Harrison's EQ for the composer Louise Rossiter, and a movement from Alberto Ginastera's Guitar Sonata for the poet Catriona Yule. Jonty Harrison has appeared in Aberdeen several times performing his own electroacoustic music, and the Ginastera sonata was played at the 2012 Sound Festival by Simon Thacker.

A particular delight in putting these programmes together was the way it encouraged me to listen again to music that in some cases I hadn't heard for twenty years and more. Laurie Anderson's Blue Lagoon was one such re-discovery, and I followed it with a Vaughan Williams choral setting of the Full Fathom Five text from Shakespeare's Tempest that Laurie Anderson had been playing with.

One of my favourite concert venues has always been the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. It was within relatively easy reach when I was growing up in Lancashire, and when I later spent a year again in Lancashire teaching and supplying glue to Asda (don't ask), I renewed my acquaintance. A particularly memorable concert there was given by the Willem Breuker Kollektief in about 1990 — each half of the concert played continuously with no pauses and a bewildering array of changes of style and mood. I hope this short excerpt from Bob's Gallery gives at least a hint of the crazy drama that they created.

There's a Dutch connection to my next choice too — I first discovered the boogie-woogie piano of Jimmy Yancey through Louis Andriessen and the piece On Jimmy Yancey that he wrote for Orkest de Volharding, but here is a piece played by Yancey himself.

My second programme ends with a more recent discovery for me — the remarkable musical family and friends of Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras. Whether performing medieval or baroque music, exploring traditions from around the world or presenting contemporary compositions, they seem to have a knack of choosing collaborators who will be sensitive to the special kind of magic that they create. Arianna Savall is a singer and harpist, daughter of Jordi and Montserrat, and in her first album Bella Terra she presents a sequence of her own songs setting texts in several languages. This track, Hi ha un remoli, sets a mysterious poem about a whirlpool by the Catalan poet Miquel Martí y Pol: "There is life and death, both immutable. The rest is mere words."


00:00

Pete Johnson & Albert Ammons
Boogie Woogie Man (1941)
[Pete Johnson & Albert Ammons, pianos; James F. Hoskins, drums]

02:42

Shivkumar Sharma
Rag Madhuvanti (exc.) (1987)
[Shivkumar Sharma, santoor; Zakir Hussain, tabla]

06:26

Gavin Bryars
Glorious Hill (exc.) (1988)
[Hilliard Ensemble]

11:45

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Allegro from Symphony No.25 in G minor K.183 (1773)
[English Concert; Trevor Pinnock, director]

16:25

György Ligeti
Allegro grazioso from Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet (1953)
[London Winds]

19:02

Jonty Harrison
EQ (exc.) (1980)
[Stephen Cottrell, soprano saxophone, with tape]

23:09

Alberto Ginastera
Finale from Guitar Sonata (1976)
[Timo Korhonen, guitar]

25:24

Laurie Anderson
Blue Lagoon (1983)
[Laurie Anderson &al.]

32:25

Ralph Vaughan Williams
Full Fathom Five from Three Shakespeare Songs (1951)
[Christ Church Cathedral Choir, Oxford; Stephen Darlington, director]

34:59

Willem Breuker
Bob's Gallery (exc.) (1987)
[Willem Breuker Kollektief]

39:52

Jimmy Yancey
State Street Special (1939)
[Jimmy Yancey, piano]

42:29

Arianna Savall
Hi ha un remoli from Bella Terra (2002)
[Arianna Savall, voice & harp]


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