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Commissions, Dedications & Compositions

This page introduces the pieces I have had written for me, and the handful of pieces I have composed.


Concerto for treble recorder and strings
by Andrew Downes

Premier given in the Spanish Hall in Prague Castle with the Czech Virtuosi conducted by Ondrej Vrabec in December 2019.

Published by Lynwood Music.

I am very honoured to have had this concerto written for me. Andrew was not only a gifted composer with a distinct voice, but one of the kindest and most generous musicians I have had the privilege of meeting. You can hear my recording with the Central England Camerata under conductor Anthony Bradbury, on my YouTube channel.

The work is set in three movements, scored for treble recorder and small string orchestra and lasts just over 20 minutes. There are discernible influences of Gregorian chant to medieval dances, Renaissance polyphony to Baroque counterpoint. In a world that is increasingly frenetic and time-bound, this concerto manages to find a calmness and stillness that I find restorative and life-affirming. There are moments when time itself seems to be suspended. Yet, at other times, the piece is alive with pulsating energy, rhythmic playfulness and vitality.

James Risdon Portrait

Reverie for treble recorder and piano
by Zoe Dixon (2021)

Premier given at Sage Gateshead in October 2021.

In preparation for publication.

In 2021 I decided to ask Zoe for a musical response to the year of lockdowns, silent streets and music venues. The result is a reverie, full of the twists and turns of a mind seeking to make sense of a new normal. The sweeping melodic lines have a tenderness and beauty but the sense of unease and longing is never far from the surface. This is an exquisite Romantic miniature which would complement any programme for recorder and piano.

Reverie is particularly suited to the ‘Eagle’ Treble recorder with its spectrum of tonal colours and wide dynamic range.

Time Out Of Mind for tenor recorder and piano
by Alan Davis (2008)

Premier given at Huntingdon Hall, Worcester in October 2008.

Published by Peacock Press.

A rare but rewarding example of a concert piece for tenor recorder and piano.

This work was commissioned from my former teacher and composer Alan Davis. It derives inspiration from the 17th century canzonas of Italy. It consists of five short sections, pivoting on a central passage written in mirror image. The dance-like finale in 7/8 provides a playful climax.


‘God Be Merciful’ by Kevin Satizabal (2012)
For treble recorder and spoken voice

This work was commissioned to celebrate James and Caroline’s wedding in 2012. It is an atmospheric setting of Psalm 67. The text is narrated and dramatized by the obligato recorder part which makes full use of the recorder’s tonal range and vocal qualities. The piece is suitable for use as part of the liturgy or in secular performance.

Published in print and Braille by Golden Chord.

Concerto in B flat for recorder and strings
by James Bowden

Premier given at the Botley Festival in September 2018.

In preparation for publication.

This concerto has its origins in the 1990s when James and I attended the same school, but its DNA is descended directly from the early 18th century. James’s reconstructs, reimagines and brilliantly recreates music from the golden age of the recorder which exudes charm, elegance and virtuosity. It is a perfect pastiche and respectful reawakening of the music of the Baroque which did so much to renew interest in the recorder. The string parts may effectively be played on organ.

Serenade by Douglas Coombes (2014)

Prelude; Romance; Humoresque; Impressions of Enchantment; A Time Past; Finale.

For sopranino, descant, treble, tenor and bass recorders and piano.

Awaiting publication.

This serenade, in six movements, was written in 2014 and dedicated to James Risdon and Trevor Hughes. It is in the best tradition of English ‘light music’ packed with delightful melodies and quirky twists and turns. Impressions of Enchantment is a rare and very effective work for bass recorder and piano and the serenade as a whole is a fun way to introduce the sounds of the recorder family.


Fantasia on a Joyous Strain for bass recorder (2018)

Premier given at St. Alfege Church, Greenwich in December 2018

Published by Peacock Press.

A show piece for solo bass recorder in a loosely folk/jazz idiom, ideal as a concert filler or encore.

Fantasia on a Joyous Strain is based on a traditional French Noel dating from the 18th century which has come down to us in two familiar settings.

The titles of the sections: “Shepherd Pipe”, “Jubilee” and “Joyous Strains” are taken from the verses of Angels We Have Heard on High. Shepherd Pipe loosely follows the melodic line of the original tune with some fill notes. Jubilee is less disguised but cast as an upbeat dance in 7/8 time while Joyous Strain combines fragments of the original tune with vocals. The most familiar part of the original tune is the descending figure of the refrain, set to the words of Gloria. This is reimagined in ever-more elaborate and virtuosic terms.

Telemania (2021)

A concert fantasy for treble recorder with low E extension.

Premier given at Benslow Music in March 2021.

In preparation for publication.

As the title suggests, the inspiration for this work is Telemann, specifically his twelve fantasias for solo flute. Telemania was conceived as a retrospective thirteenth fantasia with one or more quotations (more or less disguised) from each of the twelve originals. It also follows loosely the tonal centres from A up to G of the originals.

Telemania is cast in six sections, each with titles which hint at their character.

‘Traversing flute’ is a flourishing fanfare which rises inexorably to the top of the instrument. This returns in extended form later in the work.

‘Echo flute’ recalls distorted fragments of Telemann’s originals as quasi flashbacks in an otherwise languid adagio.

‘Ebb and flute’ is a harmonic meandering of almost unbroken semiquavers and includes an opportunity for a cadenza, reflecting the improvisatory nature of Telemann’s fantasias.

‘Cuckoo flute’ refers to the graceful minuet from the 10th fantasia, the rhythmic shell of which is here repossessed by a new melody. This is tinged with the sonorities of Eastern Europe which proved such fertile ground for Telemann.

‘Dance flute’ is an exuberant gigue with influences of tango. The rhythmic vitality, implied two-part textures and playful nature round off this humble homage to Teleman.

‘Lullay and Lament’ (2013)

This work features on my solo CD Echoes of Arcadia and you can hear this track on my Sound-Cloud page.

… a stunning and striking work …
The Recorder Magazine

A more extended work ideally performed on a Genassi type instrument, again drawing on folk influences.

Lullay and Lament was first conceived for a recital in the chapel of Westcott House, Cambridge, during Advent 2012. It was inspired by the tender lullaby “By By Lullay” which was written around 1534 as part of the music for the Pageant of the Shearmen and Taylors performed by the town guilds in Coventry. It is from here that the lullaby gained the name by which it is better known today.

The innocence of the simple melody is first interrupted and fragmented, before being distorted through irregular and uneven metres in a frenetic dance and flight. Eventually all that is left is the distant strains and echoes of the lullaby, fragile and incomplete. Framing each of these is the pipe of an imagined shepherd, echoing across the valley in a tone of lament. The improvised character of the variations is a small homage to the 17th century recorder player Jacob Van Eyck, while the pipe calls are influenced by the sounds of the Fujara flutes of Eastern Europe.