Ballades Concertantes

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Ballades Concertantes was written to celebrate the Orchestra of the Swan’s 10th Anniversary and is dedicated to Philips’ friend and colleague, the composer and conductor James Weeks.

First performed on 20 June 2017 with violist Virginia Slater, double bassist Stacey Watton, conducted by David Curtis.

1. Dame ne regardes pas

2. Sanz cuer m’en vois

3. Je ne cuit pas qu’oncques à creature

4. Dame, se vous m’estes lointeinne


Ballades Concertantes developed out of an engagement with two different historical traditions - the late fourteenth century ‘Ballade’ of Guillaume de Machaut, and the later eighteenth century ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ as developed by Haydn, Mozart or Dittersdorf. Machaut because my recent Chaucer opera The Tale of Januarie had engaged with late medieval music, and Machaut’s music was still in the air; the ‘Sinfonia Concertante’ because the Orchestra of the Swan was keen to celebrate its tenth anniversary by reviving a form which gives solo spots to individual orchestral players. In this case, the viola and double bass.

The piece thus presents four creative transcriptions of Machaut Ballades filtered through both my own imagination and the formal premise of the Sinfonia Concertante. From the Sinfonia Concertante comes an orchestral texture in which the solo viola and double bass are embedded, and also the four movement sinfonia design with a scherzo (movement 2), slow movement (movement 3) and almost a rondo finale. From the Machaut comes not only a particular sensibility about modal harmony, but also some of the plangent lyricism that fills his Ballades, which were after all songs of courtly love and amorous desire.

All four movements preserve the formal shape of the Machaut Ballades: two sections, the first repeated, the second longer, with certain phrases recurring like refrains. Movements 1 and 3 enrich, embellish and transform their Ballade sources, preserving their design quite closely. Movements 2 and 4 are a little freer - the second movement’s Ballade, Sanz cuer m’en vois, is an unusual canon (or Chasse) and this is plundered for scraps of motivic material, which are developed in fragments before the canon/Ballade is reassembled and expanded complete. Movement 4 celebrates the beautiful melody of Machaut’s Ballade Dame, se vous m’este lointeinne with paraphrases first for double bass and then for viola, which are then combined with the original melody ringing out in the horns.

Additional Information

Item Number: EP73105
Format: Sheet Music
Number of Pages: 76
Publication Date: 02/03/2018
Barcode: 9790577014951
ISMN: 979-0-57701-495-1
Format: 297x420mm
Instrumentation: Solo Viola and Solo Double Bass, 2 Horns, 2Oboes, Cor Anglais and Strings



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