Sextet for Winds (2009)

  1. First Dance (Non rubato; crotchet = 120)
  2. Second Dance (crotchet = 152)
African Journal No 20b
Transcription of "French Suite" for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and bass clarinet
Bardic Edition Score and Parts BDE 1021
Duration: c. 9'00"

Programme note

The form of the French Suite is loosely related to the Bach Suites, consisting as it does of dances in contrasting styles. But there are only two, and both owe their musical genesis to Africa rather than the Baroque. The First Dance is underpinned by a chaconne-like pattern with variations in continually changing metres, interrupted regularly by a short refrain derived from Zimbabwean mbira music. The melodic material of the variations makes reference to West African kora music. By contrast, the Second Dance juxtaposes and sometimes overlays material derived from a wide range of sources including mbira music, again) and the result is analogous to cinematic montage. The instrumental writing derives from 18th-century French harpsichord music and early 20th-century French piano music. The first performance was given by Sally Rose on 26 November 1994 to launch the 'St Luke's Concerts', Brighton. Eighty-five years after Janacek wrote his Mladi (Youth), one of my all-time wind ensemble favourites, I transcribed French Suite for the same instrumentation: standard wind quintet with the timbre-defining addition of bass clarinet.