Homages Book 1
For Solo Piano
(2013 - 15) 12 minutes
(Contemplation, In the Dew, Lullaby, Un canard hors de l'eau)
Homages to Grieg, Janacek, Schubert and Ravel. Commissioned by Ivana Gavric, previously known as Lyric Pieces.
Contemplation and In the Dew premiered by Ivana Gavric at the Wigmore Hall on the 28th November 2013.
Contemplation is a meditation on a few bars from the second movement of Grieg's Sonata op.7 (bars 17-20). I was very taken by these bars, which to me seemed typically 'Griegian': the e minor chord with the added c sharp, and dominant minor chords. The piece was written in a matter of hours, and I simply elaborated upon Grieg's chords, feeling my way on the piano as I wrote. '
In the Dew was inspired by the third of Janacek's In the Mists as well as his Piano Sonata. Much of the harmonic material comes from the former, and some of the melodic motives from the latter. The piece was written to be performed after the Sonata and I wanted to write something that would be contrasting in mood, and something of a palette cleanser after the sombre ending of Janacek's work. Although the title is partly tongue-in-cheek, when I was played thepiece through myself, the image of twinkling dew came to mind, and the title also acknowledges the 'miniature' nature of this work.
Ivana asked that the Schubert homage be based on his A major sonata D664: I was delighted about this as I spent a long time learning the second movement of this sonata as a child (and the last bar of my piece is a very clear homage to the first bar of this movement). Lullaby aims to invoke the serene quality of Schubert's slow movement.
Finally, Un Canard hors de l'eau (A duck out of water) is an unashamedly flashy piece to finish, inspired by Ravel's Une Barque sur l'Ocean and Alborada. The piece steals many of Ravel's chords and rhythms hook line and sinker, but juxtaposes them in way which I hope sounds both new and old at the same time.
© Cheryl Frances-Hoad, 2015
Reviews (of Homages Book 1 and 2 combined)
"Delicious bagatelle-character pieces, very emblematic of the composer's æsthetic as a whole."
"Frances-Hoad’s implicit trust in the expressive power of her melodic invention and harmonic thinking is paramount. That may seem to be an old-fashioned approach, but nothing in Frances-Hoad’s music ever sounds secondhand. Its ability to speak clearly and directly in an utterly fresh way is demonstrated just as powerfully in the other pieces here, too – Homages, a set of seven piano miniatures..." Andrew Clements, The Guardian
"The set of seven Homages features Frances-Hoad’s other main instrument, the piano. Mostly written in 2013-15, two of them – including the title-track Stolen Rhythm (commemorating the bicentenary of Haydn’s death) – date from 2009. These enchanting miniature fantasias (Grieg, Janáček, Schubert, Ravel, Mendelssohn and Bartók in Balkan mode are the other composers honoured) are beautifully played by Ivana Gavrić and, as with Katharsis, showcase Frances-Hoad’s range and appeal as a creator." Guy Rickards, Gramophone Magazine
"The Homages for piano attempt to harness stylistic ‘fingerprints’ of seven particular composers in what amount to short, individual character pieces. I will not identify them in this review as I suspect It might be great fun for listeners to try and spot the sources before reading the notes – armed with the knowledge beforehand, I have to say that Frances-Hoad manages to distil the essence of each with rare skill and great charm, resorting neither to parody nor pastiche at any point. While the pieces seemingly weren’t intended to form a suite they do work well together and are winningly played by the composer’s long-time collaborator Ivana Gavrić."
Richard Hanlon, MusicWeb International
"Homages is a suite of seven movements for piano, each one trying on an hommage to a different composer. So we have memories of Grieg's Lyric Pieces, Janacek's In the mists, a Schubert piano sonata, Ravel's piano music, Mendelssohn's songs without words, Haydn piano sonatas, and Bartokian rhythms. The pieces were written over a period of time, and premiered for different pianists. In each the original composer's signature can be detected, but Cheryl Frances-Hoad's personality is to the fore too, creating a sequence of delightful character pieces which can be enjoyed without worrying who was inspired by what." Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill
Selected performance history (post-premiere)
14th March 2020 - Ivana Gavric at Tetbury Goods Shed Arts Centre, Tetbury, UK
8th March 2020 - Tom Poster at Theatre Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK (Contemplation only)
8th September 2019 - Tony Caramia at Eastman School of Music, USA (a selection from Books 1 & 2:
(Contemplation, In the Dew, Stolen Rhythm and Bar(tik)tok)
23rd August 2019 - Tom Poster at St. Andrew's Church, Presteigne, Wales, UK - part of the Presteigne Festival (Book 1)
29th July 2019 - Tom Poster at Lake District Summer Music, UK (Book 1)
23rd June 2019 - Tom Poster at Buscot Park Theatre, Oxfordshire, UK (Book 1)
28th and 30th March 2019 - Kitty Xiao at Eastman School of Music, USA (Contemplation only)
31st January 2019 - Ivana Gavric at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, UK (Book 1)
21st October 2014 - Ivana Gavric at Melrose Parish Church Hall, Scotland, UK (Book 1)
28th November 2013 - Ivana Gavric at the Wigmore Hall, London, UK (In the Dew and Contemplation only)
20th October 2013 - Ivana Gavric at the Phillips Collection, Washington, USA