Two world premieres at the Hertfordshire Festival of Music
Matthew Taylor is this year’s featured composer at the Hertfordshire Festival of Music with the festival featuring two new works on 11 June, his Eighth String Quartet ‘Salutations and Celebrations’ and a new arrangement of his Fantasy Pieces for cello and piano.
Titled ‘Salutations and Celebrations’, the work’s four inner movements are transcriptions or elaborations of short pieces composed for specific occasions, including Taylor’s first wedding anniversary and the 50th birthdays of musicians Rafael and Helena Todes. The outer movements develop a single melody. In the opening Cavatina, this theme appears lyrically on all four instruments in a gradual descent. In the energetic Finale, the same melody bombs recklessly through all 12 keys, eventually establishing ‘A’ in a mood of fierce jubilation featuring very high cello writing.
The festival follows the premiere of two other major premieres of Taylor’s music. Firstly, Goddess, Excellently Bright with the Constanza Chorus and London Mozart Players conducted by Joanna Tomlinson at Cadogan Hall. Setting the life-affirming and exhilarating poem Hymn to Diana by Ben Jonson, Taylor matches these qualities with a flood of animated music.
Secondly, his Fourth Symphony premiered at the Barbican on 15 May with the Kensington Symphony Orchestra conducted by Russell Keable. The symphony comprises one large movement that falls into three spans with the first opening with a flood of energy, gaining tension until a climax that gives way to a slower, more contemplative central section. The final expanse conjures the jocular humour heard in Haydn or Prokofiev’s symphonic finales in a work that Taylor describes as his ‘friendliest symphony yet’.