Blue Skies, Magpies and Goldfish

Blue Skies, Magpies and Goldfish

The idea to make a recording of music by Australian women composers came about in 2011 when I realised that the harpsichord deserved greater exposure as a modern instrument and that several Australian composers were already in tune with this idea, most of these were women.

The piece that set the ball rolling was Elena Kats Chernin’s Re-inventions which I heard on the radio and thought would be ideal on harpsichord. On enquiring as to its suitability for transcription for the harpsichord (from the string quartet) it turned out that Elena had already made one for keyboard (piano) which could also work for harpsichord. 

The second piece I knew and loved and which I thought would work well was Anne Boyd’s Goldfish through summer rain for piano and flute. Anne agreed and volunteered to do the arrangement if I still wanted it a year later. In the end she ran out of time. But it was meant to be, because the original with some minor modifications suited our instruments very well (albeit with spinet instead of harpsichord).

Nadje Noordhuis’ suite came about as I got to know her in a different context and realised what a gifted composer she is. Known primarily as a trumpeter and jazz musician in the United States, it took me a while to realise she had other strings to her bow. Nadje describes herself as a 'lyrical' composer and Magpie Baby: A Children's Suite has plenty of delicious melodies. It was also in tune with our proclaimed 'year of the toddler' theme, as I welcomed a newborn into my family and Danielle Grant became a first time mother to Harry in 2012.

Ann Carr-Boyd’s song man is so proud was a late but very welcome addition to our program. It has opened the way to further exploration of Ann's music for harpsichord and revelations about her previous collaboration with the wonderful harpsichordist Robert Goode.

The title Blue Skies, Magpies and Goldfish refers not only to images in the pieces, but also to the overall mood of our program: playful, optimistic and sunny.

Track Listing:

Magpie Baby: A Childhood Suite – Nadje Noordhuis 
for soprano and alto recorders, harpsichord, voice and cello, with lyrics by Angus Ryan 

1. Baby Born
2. Wiggle Wobble
3. Building Blocks
4. Teeter Totter
5. Jiggle and Jostle
6. Li’l Lullaby
7. Running Rampant
8. Memory Mine 

Re-Inventions (based on two-part inventions of JS Bach) – Elena Kats Chernin
arranged for recorders and harpsichord

9. Re-invention No. 1 (based on Invention #8 in F major)
10. Re-invention No. 2 (based on Invention #4 in D minor)
11. Re-invention No. 3 (based on Invention #13 in A minor
12. Re-invention No. 4 (based on Invention #1 in C major)
13. Re-invention No. 5 (based on Invention #6 in E major)
14. Re-invention No. 6 (based on Invention #10 in G major)

Ann Carr-Boyd
for soprano and harpsichord, with words by Don Marquis 

15. man is so proud (from Trois Leçons) 

Anne Boyd
arranged for tenor recorder and spinet 

16. Goldfish through summer rain.