NCH Presents

After Beethoven Series

Wednesdays 11th & 18th May 2022
Wednesdays 1st, 8th & 15th June 2022

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This special composer-led series sees leading Irish composers Ann Cleare, Anselm McDonnell, Garrett Sholdice, Ian Wilson and Jane O’Leary respond to Beethoven’s creative legacy. Each concert features a new commission by the composer presented in a concert of their own curation.

Presented by NCH
Funded by the OPW’s Percent For Art Scheme and NCH

Ann Cleare

Programme by Ann Cleare -“Infinity”

Wednesday 1st June, 7.30pm

Ensemble Musikfabrik:
Carl Rosman clarinet/bass clarinet
Benjamin Kobler piano (instead of Ulrich Löffler)
Darragh Morgan violin (instead of Hannah Weirich)
Dirk Wietheger cello

Rebecca Saunders The Under-Side of Green (1994)
Judith Ring whispering the turmoil down (2007)
Galina Ustvolskaya Grand Duet (1959)
Seán Ó Dálaigh threads (fragments) of silence
Simon Mawhinney Barcode III (2003)
Ann Cleare Fossil Light (2020-21) (Irish Premiere)

Composer’s response
Ann Cleare -
In his late works, Beethoven realised a striking balance between necessity and freedom, regenerating musical ideas to such a degree that the material becomes almost infinite in its possibilities. Sudden modulations and unforeseen dissonances suggest an attempt to break away, to cross the borders of traditional harmony and rhythm, towards a more expansive form, perhaps what could be heard as a picture of musical infinity.
This programme from Irish, German, British, and Russian composers connect works of the recent past to the developing modernist vision of Beethoven in his late works, particularly the bold, contrasting, driving motifs of these pieces, and their ability to endlessly regenerate into an infinity of musical textures. 

“At night, when watching in wonder the sky with that multitude of luminous bodies called suns or planets which forever circle in their orbits, my soul rises towards those distant stars, towards the prime source from which all that is created draws its origin… But when on occasion I try to give musical form to my excited emotions, I feel terribly disappointed: I fling my blotted sheet of paper with anger to the floor deeply convinced that no mortal man will ever be able to depict in sounds, words or colours the heavenly images that rose before his excited imagination at this moment” - Beethoven

Since its formation in 1990, Ensemble Musikfabrik has had the reputation of being one of the leading ensembles for contemporary music. Following the literal meaning of its name, Ensemble Musikfabrik is particularly dedicated to artistic innovation. New, unknown, and often personally commissioned works in unusual media are typical of their productions. 

Programme by Garrett Sholdice -“Resonances”

WEdnesday 8th June, 7.30pm

Kate Ellis, cello
Isabelle O’Connell, piano

Naomi Pinnock – passing. vanishing for solo cello (2020) 
commissioned by Garrett Sholdice with funds provided by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon
Ludwig van Beethoven – ‘Adagio con molto sentimento d'affetto’ from Sonata No. 5, Op. 102, No. 2 for cello and piano (1815)
Andrew Hamilton – O.A.I.R. for solo piano (2012)
Eva-Maria Houben – Nur ein klang (5) for cello and piano (2009)
Benedict Schlepper-Connolly – *New Work* for solo cello (2022)
Garrett Sholdice – Circling, tracing for cello and piano (2020)

Composer’s response
Garrett Sholdice - 

Circling, tracing for cello and piano is concerned with various kinds of cycles, various kinds of repetition. The materials are fragmentary, husks. The music is, ultimately, static, forever engaged in the observance of a private ritual. Personal, tactile memories haunt these bars, too, perhaps: certain passages of Beethoven resonating up through the keys of my piano; playing slowly, out-of-time, holding each chord in my hand.

Kate Ellis is a versatile musician dedicated to the performance and exploration of all new music. She is cellist and Artistic Director of Crash Ensemble, Ireland’s leading new music group, a member of Martin Hayes’ Common Ground Ensemble, Francesco Turrissi’s Taquin experiments, Yurodny, Ergodos Musicians and the electro-folk group Fovea Hex.

Since her New York debut recital at Carnegie’s Weill Hall in 2002, Dublin-born pianist Isabelle O’Connell has developed an international career that has taken her across four continents. Isabelle has a reputation for being a dynamic interpreter and energetic advocate of music by 20th and 21st century composers, regularly commissioning and premiering new works.

Garrett Sholdice
Jane O'Leary

Programme by Jane O’Leary-“Bagatelles”

Wednesday 15th June, 7.30pm

Xenia Pestova Bennett, piano
Paul Roe, clarinet/bass clarinet
Elaine Clark, violin
Martin Johnson, cello

Elizabeth Lutyens: 5 Bagatelles (1962)
Beethoven: 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126 (1823-24)  piano solo
interspersed with 
Jane O’Leary: Five Bagatelles  (2013)   piano solo

Beethoven - 1. Andante con moto
Jane O'Leary - 1.  gently
Beethoven  - 2. Allegro
Jane O'Leary - 2.  light, sparkling
Beethoven  - 3. Andante
Jane O'Leary - 3.   as if in a dream…softly
Beethoven  - 4.  Presto
Jane O'Leary - 4.   curious, hesitant
Beethoven  - 5.  Quasi Allegretto
Jane O'Leary - 5.   gently, as if muted
Beethoven - 6.  Presto

Ed Bennett: Breath (2006)
Webern: Four Pieces for violin and piano (1910) Op. 7
Webern: Three Little Pieces for cello and piano (1914) Op. 11
Judith Ring: fine feathers far below the blue floor (2011)
Greg Caffrey: Carter Fragment (2011) 
Jane O’Leary: as the wind often does… (world premiere)

This special composer-led series sees leading Irish composers Ann Cleare, Anselm McDonnell, Garrett Sholdice, Ian Wilson and Jane O’Leary respond to Beethoven’s creative legacy. Each concert features a new commission by the composer presented in a concert of their own curation.
Composer’s response
Jane O’Leary -

We focus on Beethoven’s daring in writing small pieces, which he called Bagatelles. While the title implies that these are trivial works; they are in fact personal and probing and helped lead the way towards a variety of different formats used by composers subsequently. One of the most significant composers who adopted this concise form of expression was Anton Webern, whose short pieces for violin and cello are featured. Beethoven’s miniatures provide inspiration for the Bagatelles of Elizabeth Lutyens (1962) and myself (2013). Ed Bennett’s concise trio Breath began life with a reflection on Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio, while both Judith Ring and Greg Caffrey share with Beethoven an attention to detail and motivic obsession. My new work is an exploration of motivic gesture directly derived from the Rondo of his Piano Sonata Op. 10, no. 3, and the title is an extract from one of Beethoven’s letters.

Dedicated to the creation of new music and passionate about sharing it with listeners, Jane O’Leary has enjoyed composing music for soloists, ensembles, choirs and orchestras – often reflecting the landscape surrounding her. Jane has honed her skills through performances with specialist new music ensemble Concorde for over 40 years – exploring sound and listening from within.
Established in 1976 to fill a gap in opportunities in Ireland for listening to new music, Concorde was Ireland’s first new music ensemble, and continues to nurture the creation of new work in collaboration with composers, promoters and listeners.  Over 250 world premieres have been given and more than 100 Irish composers are represented in Concorde’s performances.