The story of a bassline over five centuries
Building bridges: the Ars Subtilior, Bartók, Ligeti, Howard Skempton and rhythms of the Sub-Sahara
Carl Theodor Dreyer's iconic film from 1928 with the music of Josquin and Philip Mayers
Three contrasting voices of 20th Century music
Classical and non-classical music from the 18th & 20th centuries with a Parisian touch, threaded together by improvisations
How would it sound: "if a time machine were to bring together some late-sixteeth-century Spanish musicians, a continuo section led by Bach, and players from Ellington's 1940 band, and if John Paul Jones stepped in with the bass line of "Dazed & Confused"....?
According to Alex Ross, the celebrated music critic of "The New Yorker", this band of musical time travellers would find common ground far more quickly than one would imagine.
In his article “Chacona, Lamento, Walking Blues”, Ross describes how the chaconne and lamento bassline stretches across several centuries, from its probable origins in the Spanish New World in the 16th century into the 20th century and the arrival of blues, jazz and rock music.
The Sheridan Ensemble takes this article as an inspiration, throws music from different eras and genre into a virtual melting pot and creates a gripping musical experience which shows the audience that all sorts of good music - regardless of style or epoch - can indeed stand side-by-side on the concert platform.
Example set A:
Claudio Monteverdi - Lamento della Ninfa
Antonio Bertali - Ciaconna in C
Luigi Rossi - Passacaglia
John Dowland - Lachrimae Antiquae
Radiohead - Exit Music (For a Film)
Henry Purcell - Dido's Lament
Example set B:
The Eagles - Hotel California
Rogers & Hart - My Funny Valentine
György Ligeti - Improvisation on "Musica Ricercata VII"
Claudio Monteverdi - Zefiro torna
Miles Davis - All Blues
Jake Holmes - Dazed & Confused
English trad. - Dance to Your Daddy
Instrumentation (6-9 players):
Soprano, flute, violin, violoncello, harpsichord & chamber organ, piano, vibraphone, theorbo, Baroque guitar & dance
The complex rhythms of the "Ars Subtilior" (1370-1420) mirrored against rhythms of the 20th century. Works by Bártók and Ligeti - sometimes set in a new soundscape, sometimes taken apart and re-mixed - are put side-by-side with music of the "Ars subtilior" movement and with sub-Saharan African rhythms. In complete contrast, the programme is laced together by piano miniatures of the British composer Howard Skempton in arrangements for various combinations within the Sheridan Ensemble. Through the extreme diversity of the instruments - ranging from string trio to electric guitar, vibraphone and harpsichord - the music gives the impression of timelessness; the barriers of the centuries seem to disappear.
Johannes Ciconia (1370 - 1412): Ut Te per Omnes
Jacob de Senleches (flourished 1382 - 1395): La Harpe de Melodie
Howard Skempton (born 1947): Surface Tension 3 (Juli 1976)
Johannes Ciconia: Una Panthera
George Gershwin (1898 – 1947): “Porgy and Bess Overture” / “Summertime” (Improvisation)
Bartolino da Padova (approx. 1365 -1405): Strinze la man (violin/viola)
Bela Bartók (1881 – 1945): Duo 23: Farewell to the Bride
Bartolino da Padova: Strinze la man (harpsichord)
Bela Bartók: Duo 22: Mosquito Dance (violin/violin)
Bartolino da Padova: Strinze la man (electric guitar/cello)
Howard Skempton/Sheridan Ensemble: freely after „Two Highland Dances, Nr. 2“
Bela Bartók: Mikrokosmos Book V: Bagpipe Music
Bela Bartók: Duo 36: Bagpipe
Bela Bartók: Mikrokosmos Book VI: Bulgarian Dance
György Ligeti (1923 – 2006)/Sheridan Ensemble: freely after „Hungarian Rock”
Howard Skempton/Sheridan Ensemble: freely after „Quavers 3” (April 1975)
Violin, violin (viola), violoncello, harpsichord, piano, vibraphone, electric guitar
The film "La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc", directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer (1928), is regarded as a milestone of early cinema. The theatre actress Renée Jeanne Falconetti as Jeanne plays a film role for only the second (and last) time. Her performance would be celebrated as one of the greatest in film history. The film was originally planned with musical score but, due to financial problems, these plans never came to fruition. Pianist and composer Philip Mayers, of the Sheridan Ensemble, has put together a film score from a mixture of the vocal music of Josquin (approx. 1440/55 - 1521) and music of his own composition, which underscores the dramatic and tragic events of the young Jeanne in her final days in deeply moving fashion.
The final days of Jeanne d'Arc based on contemporary witness accounts
Performed here by
Soloists of the RIAS-Kammerchor: Stephanie Petitlaurent, soprano; Susanne Langner, contralto; Volker Nietzke, tenor; Andrew Redmond, bass
Members of the Sheridan Ensemble: Gergely Márk Bodoky, flute; Anna Carewe, violoncello; Oli Bott, vibraphone
Speaker: Christian Steyer
Conducted by Philip Mayers
Four vocal soloists S-A-T-B, flute, vibraphone, violoncello, conductor
In May 2015, the Sheridan Ensemble's recording of rediscovered string quartets by the Austrian composer Carl Czerny (1791-1857) was released to great critical acclaim on the label Capriccio.
Carl Czerny is known as Beethoven's most famous pupil and the most important and influential piano pedagogue of the 19th century, whose legacy lives on to the present generation of pianists. An almost unknown fact is that Czerny also composed a large number of string quartets (by some reports, over 40), none of which has ever been published. Towards the end of his life, Czerny stated that his actual artistic ambitions lay in his "quartets, symphonies and sacred works" and that most of his published works were mere "childish pranks".
The international press's praise of the quality of the compositions underscores the fact that they finally deserve to be brought out of obscurity.
What the press said:
"The consistency of the sound across the members of the quartet is admirable.....a truly significant musical discovery, conveyed in an ardent and committed way."
- David Milsom, "The Strad" magazine, September 2015
"The Sheridans.....match the Viennoiserie with performances oozing that very Viennese quality of Gemütlichkeit. And their impeccable taste, sensitivity and refinement never overload the music with more import that it can bear. There's a naturalness that assumes no special pleading is required, yet none of Czerny's conversational felicities are allowed to pass unnoticed."
- Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine, October 2015
"All four pieces included here are substantial in every sense....The players are splendidly alive to the music, with readings full of vivacity. The tensile Scherzo of the D minor quartet sounds like Mendelssohn on steroids....while there's plenty of energy when needed, there's also an airiness which gives the textures an entrancing luminosity, enhanced by a natural-sounding recording. A real find."
- Harriet Smith. Gramophone, August 2015
"This new recording by the magnificent Sheridan Ensemble…is a landmark release. Czerny’s music is superb; the Sheridan’s performances are sublime."
- Paul Ballyk, Expedition Audio, 2015
Part I: Spectral
Fausto Romitelli: Domeniche alla periferia dell'impero. 1. Domenica (bass flute, bass clarinet, violin, violoncello)
Fausto Romitelli: Domeniche alla periferia dell'impero 2. Domenica (bass flute, bass clarinet, violin, violoncello)
Gérard Grisey: Talea (flute, clarinet, violin, violoncello, piano)
Part II: Minimal
Howard Skempton: June ’77 (solo piano)
Morton Feldman: Why Patterns? (flute/alto fl./bass fl., piano, glockenspiel)
Howard Skempton: Toccata (solo piano)
Part III: Theatrical
Elliott Carter: Enchanted Preludes (flute, violoncello)
Elliott Carter: Gra (solo clarinet)
Mauricio Kagel: Atem (solo flute)
Howard Skempton: Call (solo clarinet)
Elliott Carter: Esprit rude/esprit doux (flute, clarinet)
Bruno Maderna: Serenata per un Satellite Bruno Maderna (flute, clarinet/basscl., violin, violoncello, piano, vibraphone)
Music from the 18th and 20th centuries, both classical and non-classical, is threaded together by improvisations. France - mainly Paris - is the starting point of the programme but nocturnal wanderings under the light of the moon see it end up on Broadway with Kurt Weill's film music in breathtaking arrangements for the Sheridan Ensemble by Philip Mayers.
Georg Philipp Telemann: "Sonata Prima en La majeur" from the "Paris" Quartets
Dominic Muldowney: "In Paris with You"
François Couperin: from "Les Concerts Royaux", Nr. 4
Kurt Weill: "Je ne t'aime pas"
Howard Skempton: Toccata
Olivier Messiaen: from "Quatuor pour la fin du Temps" VIII. Louange à l'Immortalité de Jésus
Claude Debussy / Sheridan Ensemble: from "Suite Bergamasque" III. Clair de lune
Arnold Schoenberg: from "Pierrot Lunaire" VII. Der kranke Mond
French folksong: "Au clair de la lune"
Kurt Weill: Songs (arranged by Philip Mayers for the Sheridan Ensemble)
Soprano, traverse and modern flute, clarinet, Baroque and modern violin, Baroque and modern violoncello, harpsichord, piano