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Lydia Kakabadse (b.1955)
The Phantom Listeners • The Mermaid • Arabian Rhapsody Suite • Russian Tableaux
The Song of the Shirt
Of Georgian/Russian and Greek/Austrian parentage,
Lydia Kakabadse started composing in her early teens
and her works fall mainly into the category of music
theatre, songs, choral and chamber music. Her
distinctive style combines open triads and Gothic
features with Middle Eastern traits and rich
Lydia Kakabadse grew up in Altrincham, Cheshire,
and began piano lessons at the age of five, later studying
the double bass under Ida Carroll. She went on to read
music at Royal Holloway College, University of
London, where she was a composition pupil of Brian
Dennis. She then spent several years studying, teaching
and performing Greek and Middle Eastern dance, the
rhythmic and melodic features of which served to widen
her creative writing. This is evidenced in a number of
her works, most notably the
Arabian Rhapsody Suite.
recent years a selection of her works has been
performed at Ely Cathedral, St John’s Smith Square in
London and Norwich Cathedral.
on board, the
Mermaid’s Song,
sempre tempo
is restated in an ornately varied form by each of
The Mermaid
For mezzo-soprano, narrator, piano and strings,
the viola, cello and violin. Persephone falteringly sings
based on a story by the composer, was her
Calling Song
as the boat takes her evermore further
adapted in 2005 from one of Lydia Kakabadse’s early from her beloved cherubs.
III Cherubs to the Rescue.
The cherubs are led to the
compositions and revised in 2008.
I Enchanting Times.
Persephone, a mermaid, is pirates’ boat by Persephone’s enchanting
Calling Song.
much loved by her fellow sea creatures (her “cherubs
They manage to overthrow the pirates and set about
the sea”).
Her first song, the
Mermaid’s Song,
features rescuing Persephone, the urgency of which is
the piano’s extensive use of arpeggios portraying the represented by the fast chromatic playing of the violin
cascading waves. Persephone’s second song, the
and viola, a fourth apart. Fully recovered from her
is sung whenever she wishes to call her cherubs to ordeal, a joyous Persephone hums the
Mermaid’s Song,
her. The scene ends with a sense of foreboding as the accompanied by the gentle rippling effect of the piano.
double bass plays a variation of the
Calling Song
in its
Russian Tableaux
higher register.
II Danger Lurks.
An ominous
basso ostinato
heralds For string quartet (violin, viola, cello, double bass),
Persephone’s capture by pirates. As the pirates’ boat
Russian Tableaux
was composed in 2009.
I Mother Volga.
The river Volga is known as the
sails away with Persephone imprisoned and languishing
Tim Amherst
Tim Amherst played the horn in his youth orchestra years and switched to the double bass at
university. He then studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Robin McGee and privately with
Thomas Martin. He plays with a number of ensembles in Britain, particularly with those which
specialise in period performance. These include the Academy of Ancient Music, the Gabrieli
Consort, the Avison Ensemble, Florilegium and the Classical Opera Company. He was for nine
years principal bass of the King’s Consort.
Nigel Shipway
Nigel Shipway studied with studio percussionist Alan Grahame, attended the Royal Academy of
Music studying with James Blades and Reginald Barker and continued with American
percussionist Bobby Christian in Chicago. He has played with practically every important
orchestra in Britain, in over 500 recordings, in Torvill & Dean’s
on television, radio,
films and in West End shows.
Ben Fullbrook
After graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2007, Ben Fullbrook held the
post of Principal Timpani for the Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago in Chile. Since his return to
London, he has performed and recorded for most of the major London orchestras, as well as
numerous chamber orchestras as a freelance percussionist and timpanist.
Christian Wilson
The organist Christian Wilson has performed as a soloist throughout Europe, the United States
and Australia and has appeared regularly on BBC radio and other European stations. Following
a period as organ scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, he was subsequently awarded the Nicholas
Danby Scholarship for study abroad and in 2008 completed the solo course at the Hochschule
für Musik in Stuttgart, where he studied with Jon Laukvik and Ludger Lohmann.
George Vass
English conductor George Vass studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal
Academy of Music. As artistic director of Orchestra Nova he has appeared at many major
British concert halls and festivals. As a guest he has worked with the Bournemouth
Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Royal Scottish National orchestras, the Ulster
Orchestra, Joyful Company of Singers, London Mozart Players, Malmö Opera Orchestra and
Oxford Orchestra da Camera. He has broadcast for BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4 television.
His recordings include works by British composers for Dutton Epoch, Guild and Toccata
Classics. He is also artistic director of the Presteigne Festival.
Madeleine Easton
The Australian violinist Madeleine Easton has appeared as a soloist with many symphony
orchestras in Australia and Britain, and as concertmaster with orchestras including the Independent
Opera Company at Sadlers Wells, the Orquesta Nacional de Madrid, Lauda Música La Grand
Chapelle opera production in southern Spain, and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra. She
enjoys an active career also as a chamber musician, with recordings including works by Ivan
Khandoshkin and by Schubert. At the Royal Academy of Music she directs the Bach Cantata
series, leading the baroque orchestra and directing the Modern Instrument Period Orchestra.
Sarah-Jane Bradley
Since her concerto début with the Philharmonia in 1992, and the Wigmore Hall in 1997, the
viola-player Sarah-Jane Bradley has established a distinguished international reputation as a
soloist and chamber musician. She has given premières of many works for solo viola, and
recorded four concerto CDs for Dutton. Her work as a chamber musician has taken her to
festivals such as Marlborough and Kuhmo. A former member of the Leopold String Trio and
Sorrel Quartet, she currently works with the Fidelio Piano Quartet.
Bozidar Vukotic
The cellist Bozidar Vukotic is a founder member of the Tippett Quartet. Born in London, he
studied with Stefan Popov at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and with Alexander
Kniazev in Moscow. He performs regularly at the Wigmore Hall, on BBC Radio 3, and
throughout Britain and Europe. He has recorded extensively for Naxos, EMI Classics, Classic FM
Records, Guild, Dutton Epoch, Signum and Real World Records. He teaches at the Royal
Academy of Music.
Caroline Dale
The cellist Caroline Dale studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and later with Pierre
Fournier in Geneva. At fifteen she was the youngest ever recipient of the Isserlis Scholarship. She was
a member of the Nigel Kennedy Quartet and the Balanescu Quartet, and a founder member of the
American-based Apollo Piano Trio. Prior to her appointment as Principal Cellist of the English
Chamber Orchestra she was principal of the BT Scottish Ensemble and the LCO. She has appeared as
a soloist with major orchestras and has a number of recordings to her credit.
Ben Griffiths
Born in Cambridge in 1979, Ben Griffiths has a busy schedule as a chamber musician and
orchestral bass player. He is a regular guest player with the London Symphony Orchestra, with
which he tours and records extensively. He has made numerous CDs and broadcasts, including
live from the Wigmore Hall with the Royal Quartet, and as a soloist on a CD of music by Cecilia
mother of Russian civilisation and came to be called
“Mother Volga”. Accompanied by the double bass, the
piece opens with the cello, followed by the viola and
then the violin, each representing a tributary that flows
into the river. As the river gathers momentum following
the announcement of the main theme by the cello, the
viola attempts to steer a steady course against the
meandering strings and brings the piece to an end with
arpeggio-like runs.
II “1917”.
Depicting the aftermath of the Russian
Revolution of 1917 and the ensuing misery and sense of
desolation, this movement opens with the cello playing
the main theme
grave con dolore,
accompanied by the
double bass. This theme is then taken up by the violin
and later by the viola in their lower registers. Despite an
increase in tempo, the feeling of despair cannot be
shaken off.
III Dance of the Matryoshka Dolls.
The matryoshka
is a hollow wooden doll containing a number of smaller
dolls. The dance starts fast and lively and the first
theme, announced by the violin, characterizes the dainty
dancing of the smaller dolls. In contrast, the second
theme when played by the double bass, characterizes the
heavy plodding movements of the larger dolls. The
tempo reverts to the original
bringing the dance
to a fast and furious close.
The Song of the Shirt
Of Lydia Kakabadse’s early compositions, only
Song of the Shirt,
for soprano and piano, written when
she was fifteen, is still performed today in its original
form. The words, by Thomas Hood (1799–1845), depict
abject poverty and the cruel exploitation of the poor.
They conjure up a picture of a woman in rags, worn out
by endlessly sewing in filthy, pitiful conditions,
appealing to the consciences of men. The melancholic
tone of the words is reproduced by the wide use of
minor keys. The monotony of such a pitiful existence is
reflected in the repetition of the same note and sequence
of notes. The use of the falling augmented second, rising
diminished seventh and open fifths adds to the
desperation and misery.
Arabian Rhapsody Suite
Scored for string quartet (violin, viola, cello, double
Arabian Rhapsody Suite
was composed in
I Marrakesh.
Much use is made of embellished
melodies, syncopated rhythms, frequent accidentals and
ornamented passages over an open fifth
accompaniment, all of which seek to capture the
thrilling vibrancy and mystique of Marrakesh. There is
frequent interplay between the instruments and each one
is given an opportunity to exhibit its technical ability.
II Reverie.
As its name suggests, this movement is
dream like in character. Played
sempre tranquillo,
it is
characterized by the flow of dainty runs in the form of
rising and falling triplets followed by the rapid
alternation of notes an augmented second apart. The
viola announces the main theme, which is later taken up
by the violin and then the cello.
III Sultan’s Feast.
Rich and heavy in equal measure
and played
con gusto,
this movement features low
register unison playing, accented off-beats, an
abundance of melody and arpeggio-like accom-
paniments. With its fast arpeggio-like pizzicato
accompaniment, the double bass simulates the pulsating
throb of the
bringing the movement to a
The Phantom Listeners
For soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, narrator, church
pipe organ, percussion and strings,
The Phantom
was composed in 2005–2007, with a Latin text
written by the composer. This musical drama was
inspired by Walter de la Mare’s poem
The Listeners,
which the first scene and epilogue are based. Lydia
Kakabadse collaborated with her good friend and writer
Jen Syrkiewicz, who added four more scenes. The
voices, which collectively represent the phantom
listeners, sing throughout in Latin.
I The Traveller’s Message.
The Traveller un-
successfully tries to obtain a response from a house
inhabited by the Phantom Listeners, who strongly
oppose his presence. Tubular bells and the sound of
thunder dramatically set the scene followed by the
introduction of a haunting theme on the double bass.
The organ’s dramatic and discordant entry late in this
scene is closely based on Bach’s
Toccata and Fugue in
D minor.
Before departing from the house, the Traveller
leaves a message.
II Secrets of the House.
Events leading up to the
Traveller’s arrival at the house unfold. On the orders of
an evil witch, the Phantom Listeners hold a maiden
captive in the house and watch over her day and night.
The maiden, who is betrothed to the Traveller, lies in a
death-like sleep under the witch’s curse. In antiphonal
style singing, the Phantom Listeners rejoice that the
curse will continue for eternity and will never be
III The Traveller Returns.
The Traveller wanders
aimlessly pondering the words of the curse and when at
last he succeeds in deciphering the riddle, he resolutely
rides back to the house. First without accompaniment
and then with sparse string accompaniment, the
Phantom Listeners meanwhile joyfully proclaim that if
they guard the maiden diligently, they will be well
rewarded. The mood, however, changes when the
Traveller approaches the house.
IV The House Rages.
Realising that the Traveller
has succeeded in breaking the curse, the Phantom
Listeners flee. The Traveller forces his way into the
house and when he sees his beloved, the mood becomes
mournful, culminating in both losing their lives. When
the Phantom Listeners return to the house, they turn
against the witch, whom they blame for the maiden’s
death. Absorbing
Selmer Paris
powers released from the
spell, the house erupts into a rage entrapping the witch.
V Reunited.
The first part of this scene is happy and
joyful as the two lovers are happily reunited. They
rejoice at their good fortune and are married amid much
celebration. The second part is dark and sinister, created
basso ostinato
cello/double bass and discordant
organ, depicting the house holding the Phantom
Listeners captive. Their ominous chanting penetrates
through the dark eerie night.
A young traveller knocks on the door of
the haunted house. Mindful that this young traveller
may be their saviour and therefore able to break the
spell, the Phantom Listeners beg him to enter their
house and remain there. They declare that he belongs to
their shadowy world and should not go back to the
world of men.
Lydia Kakabadse
Kit Hesketh-Harvey
Born in Nyasaland in 1957, Kit Hesketh-Harvey was educated at the Cathedral Choir
School, Canterbury, and Tonbridge School, and was a Choral and English Exhibitioner
at Clare College, Cambridge, followed by post-graduate study in theatre writing under
Stephen Sondheim at St Catherine’s College, Oxford. He has a distinguished reputation
as a writer and producer for television, a playwright, broadcaster, actor, lyricist and
librettist. He was co-author with Ronald Harwood of
All The World’s A Stage
and with Maria S. Just of
Five O’Clock Angel
(Knopf). His two-man musical satire
and the Widow
has been nominated three times in the West End for Olivier Awards. He
received the Writer Of The Year Award 2009 for his regular column in
Country Life
Emma Brain-Gabbott
Emma Brain-Gabbott read music at Trinity College, Cambridge, where she was also a choral
scholar. She has since taken part in a wide range of musical activities, ranging from pop, West
End shows, television and film soundtrack projects, through to opera, including
Peter Grimes
Salzburg under Sir Simon Rattle. She also enjoys performing, touring and recording with such
groups as the Sixteen, the BBC Singers, European Voices, Polyphony and I Fagiolini, among
others. She has recorded extensively with Opera Rara and appears regularly as a soloist in
Britain and abroad.
Clare McCaldin
Clare McCaldin has sung with the Royal Opera, Scottish Opera and English National Opera,
appeared in stage works by John Adams, Brian Irvine, Judith Weir and Stephen McNeff, and
given premières of solo works written for her by McNeff and Hugh Wood. Collaborations in
traditional repertoire include French baroque with La Réjouissance, Bach with the Academy of
Ancient Music, and recitals with Simon Lepper and Lindy Tennent-Brown.
Michael Bundy
The baritone Michael Bundy has a very wide musical repertoire, encompassing the Baroque era,
having worked extensively with Gardiner, Pinnock and Christophers, the romantic period,
particularly obscure French repertoire, and the contemporary, having given premières of works
by McDowall, Maguire, Hardy and Noam Shariff. His recordings include three solo discs of
French mélodies for Naxos (Widor, Vierne and Tournemire, Naxos 8.572345-47), Purcell’s
Fairy Queen,
The Bride of Dionysus
and Michael Hurd’s
The Widow of Ephesus.
l Enchanting Times
ll Danger Lurks
lll Cherubs to the Rescue
l Mother Volga
ll “1917”
lll Dance of the Matryoshka Dolls
The Mermaid
The Phantom Listeners
Arabian Rhapsody Suite • The Mermaid
Hesketh-Harvey • Brain-Gabbott
McCaldin • Bundy
Instrumentalists • George Vass, Conductor
Russian Tableaux
The Song of the Shirt
Arabian Rhapsody Suite
l Marrakesh
ll Reverie
lll Sultan’s Feast
The Phantom Listeners
l The Traveller’s Message
ll Secrets of the House
lll The Traveller Returns
IV The House Rages
V Reunited
Kit Hesketh-Harvey, Narrator
1, 5
Emma Brain-Gabbott, Soprano
• Clare McCaldin, Mezzo-soprano
1, 3, 5
Michael Bundy, Baritone
• Madeleine Easton, Violin
1, 2, 4, 5
Sarah-Jane Bradley, Viola
1, 2, 4, 5
• Bozidar Vukotic, Cello
1, 2, 4
Caroline Dale, Cello
• Ben Griffiths, Double bass
1, 2, 4
Tim Amherst, Double bass
• Nigel Shipway, Timpani
Ben Fullbrook, Percussion
• Christian Wilson, Piano/Organ
1, 3, 5
George Vass, Conductor
1, 5
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