Ground after the Scotch Humour                                    Matteis (floreat 1670 – died after 1714)

Nicola Matteis was an Italian 17th century violinist and composer, who moved in about 1672 to England, where he was hailed as second only to Corelli, and enjoyed commercial success with his published music, notably four books of Ayres.  He married a rich widow in 1700 and retired from the London musical scene, but according to the diarist Roger North, he ended his days in ill health and poverty.

Selection from Airs for the Season                                                  Oswald (1711 – 1769)

Born in Crail, James Oswald was one of the Scottish Enlightenment’s most important composers.  He was musician and dancing master at Dunfermline, before moving to Edinburgh and then to London, where he rose to become chamber musician to George the Third.  He published many volumes of music, some of which were compilations of Scottish folk-tunes, some his own compositions.  The two sets of Airs for the Seasons contain twenty-four pieces for each season, each depicting an appropriate flower.

Canzonetta                                                                                        Morley (1557 – 1603)

Thomas Morley learnt his craft as a pupil of William Byrd.  After a time as organist at Saint Paul’s Cathedral, he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1592.  Today he is probably considered to be the best of the Elizabethan composers.  He published several books of canzonets and madrigals, and in the “First Book of Canzonets to Two Voices” of 1595 are several two-part fantasies for instruments.

The Changeless and the Changed                                   David Fennessey (1976 – )

High Heels and Horsehair’s current project, “Transplanted”, is a celebration of the rich diversity of Scotland’s plant life and its music.  To complement Oswald’s Airs for the Seasons, they have commissioned eight new compositions, inspired by plants.  David Fennessy studied with James MacMillan at the RSAMD in Glasgow, where he now holds a teaching post in the Faculty of Composition.  This short work for “Transplanted” was inspired by the dandelions of the Island of Hirta.

Ecstatic Dances                                                                     Ross Edwards (1943 – )

Ross Edwards is one of Australia’s best known composers, and his teachers have included Peter Sculthorpe and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.  He works across a wide range and has produced symphonies, concertos, chamber and vocal music, children’s music, film scores, opera and music for dance.  His Ecstatic Dances are arranged for a variety of combinations, including violin and cello.

The Juniper Run                                                                       Chris Stout (1976 – )

For “Transplanted”, the well-known Shetland fiddler Chris Stout was inspired by the juniper bushes of his native Fair Isle.  “I love the fact that Juniper is prickle and edgy.  The berry’s flavour is strong and has to be used sparingly, so a little miniature piece about Juniper is highly appropriate.  Like the plant it’s fun, beautiful, therapeutic and medicinal if treated with care and consumed in small doses.

Selection from 44 Duos for 2 violins                                                Bartók (1881 – 1945)

From his early twenties, with his good friend Kodály, Bartók started to collect Hungarian folk-music, an activity which continued well into the 1930s.  In 1926, as a piano teacher himself (he was Professor of Piano at the Budapest Conservatoire, though his compositions were ignored), he had begun a series of 153 piano pieces “Mikrokosmos”, ranging from pieces for beginners to studies for professionals.  It was in 1931 that Erich Dorfein, a German violinist and teacher, asked Bartók if he would arrange some folk tunes for students to play.  Bartók produced 44 violin duos in four books, the first two “basic”, the third intermediate and the final one advanced.  Based on folk music from many eastern European countries, the duos show great zest, and harmonic and rhythmic freedom.

Duo op. 7                                                                                           Kodály (1882 – 1967)

Allegro serioso, non troppo


Maestoso e largamente, ma non troppo – presto

In addition to a life-long love of folk-music, a second influence pervading this substantial duo composed in 1914, was that of the contemporary French school, an influence heightened by several months of study in Paris.  As a player of violin, viola and cello, Kodály was able to produce a variety of striking effects using the restricted means of just two instruments, from impassioned declarations and introspective musings to the wail of gypsy violins.  The first two movements have strong echoes of Debussy and Ravel.  The last movement is the most Hungarian, introducing a simple folk-melody almost like a children’s song.

                                               Last ACMC Performance: the Jeal Somov Duo, January 2006


The ACMC Committee invites you to join them for Christmas wine

and mince pies after the concert

Xmas Festivities

Programme Notes Dec 2014