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Time To Consider (1996)

for solo harpsichord (2 manual). The piece is in seven movements which are played in groups. The musical material refers (sometimes obviously, sometimes more obscurely) to the work of Domenico Scarlatti. The title is taken from Basil Bunting's extraordinary autobiographical poem Briggflatts (1965):

It is time to consider how Domenico Scarlatti

condensed so much music into so few bars

with never a crabbed turn or a congested cadence,

never a boast or a see-here; and stars and lakes

echo him and the copse drums out his measure,

snow peaks are lifted up in moonlight and twilight

and the sunrises on acknowledged land.

As I grew up in Hexham, Northumberland, I was lucky enough to hear Basil Bunting read several times at the Moot Hall in the Market Square: a fourteenth-century building which my artist father and a local antique dealer, Roger Freer, persuaded the local council to convert from a store for concrete mixers into a small gallery. Bunting's voice rasped and lilted around the vaulted ceiling, leaving an impression so visceral that I still have total recall of his timing, pacing and of the contour of his lines.

The piece was commissioned by Jane Chapman with funds from Eastern Arts/The King of Hearts Arts Centre, Norwich, and first performed there on a magnificent instrument by Alan Gotto as part of the 1996 Norfolk & Norwich Festival. The recording below was made in Autumn 1998 at City University, London and features Jane Chapman. It was recorded and produced by Paul Fretwell.

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