for String Orchestra
Dedicated, with his permission, to Sir Malcolm Arnold, with respect and with gratitude for his friendship and his inspiration.
I. M.A.sque – Poco Adagio – Allegro moderato e poco pesante
II. Music for Miriam ¬– Adagio
III. Il Buffone (G.C.) – Allegro vivace
Duration 36’ (15’, 10’, 11’)
Note: the movements may also be performed separately
String Orchestra (min. 10, 8, 6, 4, 3; max. 16, 14, 12, 10, 8)
(soli violin and cello in mvt.2)
World premiere: May 23, 2004; Bergen Korskirken, Norway
(Bergen Music Festival, 2004) Trondheim Soloists; Jon Lord, conductor
Odense Symphony Orchestra; Paul Mann, conductor
(EMI 3905282, with Boom of the Tingling Strings, 2008.)
Publisher: Schott Music Enterprise GmbH
Full score and parts available on hire
Jon Lord’s programme note in the score:
These portraits of three people were chosen in some way for their similarities as well as their contrasts. They are:
In the first movement, a famous composer who was a seminal influence on my musical life.
In the second movement, my late mother who, when she died, left me, among countless wonderful memories, the little six-note theme that appears throughout Music for Miriam.
In the third movement an old friend, who brings me occasional benign madness and hilarity when I most need it, and whose joviality disguises a certain wistfulness.
I decided, upon completion of the work, that I wanted to dedicate it to the subject of the first movement, Sir Malcolm Arnold, and I received the following email from Anthony Day on September 20th, 2006:
“Sir Malcolm is delighted that you are honouring him in this way, and wishes you every success with the new piece. He looks forward to hearing it.”
Thus the above dedication.
Four days later came the sad news of his passing, and a few days after that I heard from Sir Malcolm’s manager, Fiona Southey, who wrote:
“The concept for your piece…is made especially poignant in that MA was aware of what you had in your mind and only too delighted to sanction your request also to dedicate the entire work to him. I do know that he was really very happy with the thought.”
RIP, Sir Malcolm, and thank you.
A note on the new score by Paul Mann
Jon Lord’s Disguises was originally conceived as a piece for string quartet, but as the work took shape it quickly became apparent to the composer that his material called for larger forces. The first performance was given by the Trondheim Soloists at the Bergen Music Festival on 23 May 2004. In December 2006, I conducted the Odense Symphony Orchestra in the premiere recording, which was released in 2008 by EMI Classics as a companion to Boom of the Tingling Strings.
The work is one of Jon’s richest and most rewarding.
The first movement depicts unflinchingly and with extreme perceptiveness the vulnerability and complexity of Sir Malcolm Arnold’s troubled psyche. I subsequently conducted it on various other occasions in Jon’s presence (including at the 2007 Malcolm Arnold Festival with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) and he never stopped trying to find ways to enhance the immediacy of its expression. In April 2012, I returned to it, conducting it in a series of concerts with the Orquesta Cuidad de Granada. Jon was too ill to make the journey, but that didn’t stop him making alterations and adjustments by phone. Among the most readily noticeable of these are some stomach-churning glissandi in the lower strings towards the end of the M.A.sque – incidentally of course a typically punning Lord title.
Music for Miriam began life on Jon’s 1997 album Pictured Within, and he continually revisited and revised it both for Beyond The Notes (2004) and as the centrepiece of Disguises. It is a profoundly touching memorial to his mother, who is represented in the music by a solo violin. (A solo cello can also be heard to represent his father.) Jon was given to encoding his music with personal touches, and Music for Miriam contains one of the most affecting of these. Shortly after the beginning, after the solo violin’s first flourish, the hushed strings (marked adagio religioso) quote the opening phrase of the first piece of music Jon ever composed, while he was still a teenager. It was, somewhat ambitiously, a setting of the Nunc Dimittis, and upon hearing her young son’s music, the solo violin smiles with pride, indulging in a bar of quietly joyous triplets.
The last movement of Disguises is perhaps the most enigmatic. Jon preferred to allow its subject to retain his privacy so I shall not betray the confidence here. Suffice to say that the combination of a slightly dangerous exuberance and a profound melancholy gives the movement its powerfully evocative atmosphere, and is perhaps also the true source of the suite’s overall title. It is also a tour-de-force for the performers, making considerable demands on the virtuosity of any string orchestra.
This new score contains for the first time all the many revisions and refinements made by the composer and by myself over the years since the Odense recording.