PENNILLION FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO op.571 (April 1994)


Theme and variations arranged from the original for violin and harp
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Duration: 9:24
First Performance: Christiane Edinger, 20,5,1994, Berlin

Sheet Music Available
Instrumental / piano score for sale
Instrumental parts for sale
Recordings Available
Music for piano and strings
Released: 28th October 2008
Recorded: 24th May 2008
Artists: Sonata for violin and piano, Jazz Dances, Pennillion: Madeleine Mitchell (violin) Howard Blake (piano) Recorded Potton Hall, May 24-25, July 13 2008. The CD includes an archive recording of the Piano Quartet performed by Jack Rothstein (violin), Kenneth Essex (viola), Peter Willison (cello) and Howard Blake(piano), recorded at the Conway Hall, October 1974
Available from: Amazon UK Naxos Records

Recorded on NAXOS: HOWARD BLAKE MUSIC FOR PIANO & STRINGS (74'15'') Madeleine Mitchell (violin) and Howard Blake (piano) Naxos 8.572083 released October 28th 2008 www.naxos.com

Movements

  • 1: Theme 1 minutes 42 seconds
    Moderato
  • 2: Variation 1 35 seconds
    Vivo
  • 3: Variation 2 37 seconds
    L'istesso tempo
  • 4: Variation 3 1 minutes 01 seconds
    Meno mosso (ritmico)
  • 5: Variation 4 54 seconds
    Allegro
  • 6: Variation 5 1 minutes 16 seconds
    Lento (misterioso)
  • 7: Variation 6 1 minutes 45 seconds
    Moderato (grazioso)
  • 8: Theme 1 minutes 34 seconds
    Tempo primo (tranquillo)

Notes

The title comes from the Welsh custom of singing improvised verses on a given theme to a melody either well-known or taught by the harper. Here the original folk-like theme is stated at the beginning and end and there are seven variations in between. 'Penillion' was originally composed for violin and harp. This version was created by the composer in 1994.

A Review: Violinist Alan Parmenter joins composer and pianist Howard Blake for a very special recital.

Blake we know as the composer of The Snowman, as well as 204 commercial ads including reintroducing many classical music hits – the ‘Bell Song’ duet from Delibes’ Lakmé has worked for BA over 30 even 40 years.

Still his opus numbers total well over 600. Two compositions he returned to in the mid-noughties date originally from the 1970s but they’ve been overhauled. You can find them with his Piano Quintet on an acclaimed Naxos disc.

First was the Penillion Op 571 for Violin and Piano from 1975 revised 2005. Parmenter has a full but penetrating tone, and with the composer at the piano providing a sterling through-line this was always gong to be authoritative. It’s a work with the Theme at the opening and conclusion with six variations in between. It’s memorable, a mix of jaunty wistfulness and jazzy syncopations, elements of those commercial imprints Blake himself claims.

The melodic profile is keen, with an upward-moving theme worked though various tempi like moderato vivo, L’istesso tempo (same as before), Meno mosso, Allegro, Lento, Moderato Blake’s long-breathed melodies jaunt with sudden jagged upswings though generally smoothly shifting harmonies, with a popular melodic idiom almost on the breath of the work, but with its own personal integrity, somewhere where the highest kind of film music is distilled into utterly memorable chamber works like this one.

We then heard a masterwork, played by Paul Gregory on guitar. This is the Prelude Sarabande and Gigue Op 477, a typical guitar triptych. It’s a work from January 1995, again not only memorable but with its teeming invention in the quiet gentle Prelude, the Sarabande slipping quietly into an earworm and then a Gigue as memorable and fine as one of the Five Preludes of Villa-Lobos with its anticipated wrong-footing chords (like Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op 12/3 with the violin and piano playing catch-up) this characterful works concluded. It really should be standard repertoire It’s the most distinct piece for guitar since Walton’s Five Pieces and Richard Rodney Bennett’s. Gregory is known as a sovereign interpreter, and here he gathered in the work’s expressive range, easy to bloom in this acoustic.

The Violin Sonata Op 586 from 1973 revised 2007 shares similar material with the slightly earlier Penillion opens with an Allegro reminding us of the work we heard at the opening. It’s fast-paced but not aggressive, sashaying in an out of a gently jazzy theme drawn on an Alberti bass.

The Lento in John Ireland’s mildly sinewy vein rippling to a kind of peace, perhaps gives no hint of the fiercer Presto to come, full of explosive lyric force. There’s a snap and ferocity at the end you’d not predict. Ireland yes but really Blake sounds only like himself. Parmenter summons piercing stratospheric sonance allied to a truly digging-out of those rhythmic figures, even more extreme than I’ve heard anywhere else. Blake throughout enthuses in the snappiness of his own part-writing,

A masterly composer whose works we all know more than we think, beyond The Snowman, this was treasurable.

Published December 4, 2019

 

Performances

20th September 2020 Madeleine Mitchell,violin; Howard Blake,piano STREAMED LIVE on 20th September 2020 at 4.00pm https://www.st-marys-perivale.org.uk/events-2020-09-20.shtml, St. Mary's, Perivale,near Ealing (outside London} Link to view: https://www.st-marys-perivale.org.uk/events-2020-09-20.shtml

Pennillion op. 571- Variations on a folk-like theme
Violin Sonata op. 566 - Allegro, Lento, Vivace
'The Ice Princess & the Snowman' op.557
'Jazz Dances' op.520a Folk Ballad, Jazz Waltz, Galop
'Walking in the Air', from The Snowman op.371a, arr. by HB for MM
 
Composer's note. 'Pennillion' was originally composed for Jack Rothstein in 1973 when he also suggested the sonata, composed in the same year. However the first definitive recordings were not made until the album for Naxos made by today's soloists in 2005. 'The Ice Princess & the Snowman' op.557 was arranged for violin and piano at Madeleine's special request, as were all the 'Jazz Dances' op.520a and  'Walking in the Air', from The Snowman op.371a!
 
 






3rd December 2019 Paul Gregory (solo acoustic guitar), Alan Parmenter (violin), Howard Blake (piano), Chapel Royal, North Street,Brighton Tuesday 3rd December 1.00pm
23rd April 2018 Madeleine Mitchell violin and Martin Butler piano,

23 April 1-1.50pm Recital of English  Music on St George's Day: Ireland Violin Sonata no.2, Howard Blake Penillion & 2 Jazz Dances, Martin Butler Suzanne's River Song, with Martin Butler, piano St Peter's, Kensington Park Road, London W11 2PN Free, with retiring collection http://www.nottinghillconcerts.co.uk/home/4592046749

3rd April 2018 Madeleine Mitchell violin and Martin Butler piano, Chapel Royal, Brighton

3 April 1.10-1.55pm Recital Brighton Chapel Royal, 164 North Street, Brighton BN1 1EA Howard Blake Penillion & 2 Jazz Dances, Martin Butler Suzanne's River Song,  Ireland Violin Sonata no.2 with Martin Butler, piano - Composers of Sussex Tickets on the door £3


I

29th August 2015 Alicia Smietana and Sasha Grynyuk, Dunblane Cathedral

A programme of music for violin and piano by Howard Blake

1st November 2013 Madeleine Mitchell (violin), Samoilov Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
16th October 2013 Howard Blake (piano), Madeleine Mitchell (violin), Leighton House, Kensington, 7.30

Wednesday 16 October 2013 75th birthday celebration of the local composer HOWARD BLAKE piano with MADELEINE MITCHELL violin BLAKE Penillion FRANCK Violin Sonata SCHUBERT Notturno (played by graduates of the Royal College of Music) BLAKE Violin Sonata

16th February 2013 Madeleine Mitchell and Howard Blake Naxos CD, Radio New Zealand. Good Morning programme
16th July 2006 Helen Burrows, David Ruddock, St Michael's Church Centre, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich

Reviews


Brighton Year-Round 2019

Alan Parmenter and Howard Blake Violin and Piano Recital

Alan Parmenter and Howard Blake

Genre: Live Music, Music

Venue: Chapel Royal, North Road, Brighton

Festival: Brighton Year-Round

Low Down

Alan Parmenter and Howard Blake gave a violin and piano recital of Blake’s compositions: The Penillion Op 586 from 1975 revised 2005, the Solo Guitar Prelude Sarabande and Gigue Op 477 from January 1995 and the Violin Sonata Op 571 (1973/2007).

Review

Violinist Alan Parmenter joins composer and pianist Howard Blake for a very special recital.

Blake we know as the composer of The Snowman, as well as 204 commercial ads including reintroducing many classical music hits – the ‘Bell Song’ duet from Delibes’ Lakmé has worked for BA over 30 even 40 years.

Still his opus numbers total well over 600. Two compositions he returned to in the mid-noughties date originally from the 1970s but they’ve been overhauled. You can find them with his Piano Quintet on an acclaimed Naxos disc.

First was the Penillion Op 571 for Violin and Piano from 1975 revised 2005. Parmenter has a full but penetrating tone, and with the composer at the piano providing a sterling through-line this was always gong to be authoritative. It’s a work with the Theme at the opening and conclusion with six variations in between. It’s memorable, a mix of jaunty wistfulness and jazzy syncopations, elements of those commercial imprints Blake himself claims.

The melodic profile is keen, with an upward-moving theme worked though various tempi like moderato vivo, L’istesso tempo (same as before), Meno mosso, Allegro, Lento, Moderato Blake’s long-breathed melodies jaunt with sudden jagged upswings though generally smoothly shifting harmonies, with a popular melodic idiom almost on the breath of the work, but with its own personal integrity, somewhere where the highest kind of film music is distilled into utterly memorable chamber works like this one.

We then heard a masterwork, played by Paul Gregory on guitar. This is the Prelude Sarabande and Gigue Op 477, a typical guitar triptych. It’s a work from January 1995, again not only memorable but with its teeming invention in the quiet gentle Prelude, the Sarabande slipping quietly into an earworm and then a Gigue as memorable and fine as one of the Five Preludes of Villa-Lobos with its anticipated wrong-footing chords (like Beethoven’s Violin Sonata Op 12/3 with the violin and piano playing catch-up) this characterful works concluded. It really should be standard repertoire It’s the most distinct piece for guitar since Walton’s Five Pieces and Richard Rodney Bennett’s. Gregory is known as a sovereign interpreter, and here he gathered in the work’s expressive range, easy to bloom in this acoustic.

The Violin Sonata Op 586 from 1973 revised 2007 shares similar material with the slightly earlier Penillion opens with an Allegro reminding us of the work we heard at the opening. It’s fast-paced but not aggressive, sashaying in an out of a gently jazzy theme drawn on an Alberti bass.

The Lento in John Ireland’s mildly sinewy vein rippling to a kind of peace, perhaps gives no hint of the fiercer Presto to come, full of explosive lyric force. There’s a snap and ferocity at the end you’d not predict. Ireland yes but really Blake sounds only like himself. Parmenter summons piercing stratospheric sonance allied to a truly digging-out of those rhythmic figures, even more extreme than I’ve heard anywhere else. Blake throughout enthuses in the snappiness of his own part-writing,

A masterly composer whose works we all know more than we think, beyond The Snowman, this was treasurable.

Published December 4, 2019 by Simon Jenner

Simon Jenner, Brighton Year-Round, 4/12/2019


As a surprise, Chrsitiane Edinger and her excellent duo partner commenced the second half of the concert with Howard Blake's 'Penillion'-Theme and variations for violin and piano. One listened to this concisely constructed work with its astonishingly inspired melody as if the name of the composer were not Howard Blake , but Antonin Dvorak. The Slavic-sounding tonality of this poignant piece makes one curious to hear the Violin Concerto that Blake. whose neo-conservatism seems currently to be in vogue in the English music scene, has composed for Christiane Edinger.

Tagesspiegel (Berlin), 20/5/1994

Related Works


'PENNILLION (For Flute And Harp)' op.448 (March 1993)
Theme and variations arranged from the original for violin and harp
'PENNILLION FOR OBOE AND PIANO' op.461 (September 1994)
Theme and variations arranged from the original for violin and harp
'PENNILLION (for Clarinet And Piano)' op.466 (June 1994)
Theme and variations arranged from the original for violin and harp
'PENNILLION (for Bassoon And Piano)' op.466A (June 1994)
A theme and variations arranged from the original for violin and harp (see op.202)
'PENNILLION FOR VIOLA AND PIANO' op.570 (April 2006)
Theme and Variations arranged from the original for violin and harp

Related Autobiography Chapters


Narrated version of 'The Bear', 'Scotland' (2007)
Easter Anthem, Can Y Crud, Spieltrieb,I'm all right Jack (2008)
Nursery Rhymes,Haiku for Yu-Chee,Parting,Piano Trio 3 Elegia Stravagante (2013)

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