New works written for guitarist Sam Cave by Michael Finnissy, Christopher Fox, and John Croft are performed for the first time alongside resonant and intimate pieces by Lisa Illean, Alastair Putt, and Laurence Crane in this programme exploring the influence of landscape, the ocean, poetry, and plainsong.
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Laurence Crane, Bobby J (1999)
Michael Finnissy, Outcast (2021, 1st live performance)
John Croft, Felix Namque (after Thomas Tallis) (2021, World Premiere)
Christopher Fox, The Pursuit of Happiness (2020, World Premiere)
Lisa Illean, Tiding (2021)
Alastair Putt, Cuerdas (2017)
Michael Finnissy’s Outcast is his largest solo guitar work to date and was written for Sam Cave in 2021. Here Finnissy explores the imagery and structure of the ninth-century Welsh poem Claf, draws upon the harmonic contour and shading of Felix Namque settings by Shelbye, and distils a uniquely resonant kind of guitar writing; at once intimate, luminous, and singular.
Also inspired by Felix Namque ("for thou art happy": the text of the vigil of the assumption), Christopher Fox and John Croft take equally unique and distinctive approaches. The Pursuit of Happiness tunes the guitar in pure fourths and decouples the hands, giving the left hand a bottleneck and each hand an independent stave, to develop a dancing and warping set of divisions on a Felix Namque plainchant. Meanwhile John Croft’s work for restrung guitar constructs a series of sixth-tone descents from a keyboard setting of the Felix Namque by Thomas Tallis and combines them with intense chordal strumming, freewheeling cadenzas, and dense ornamentation.
The two works for electric guitar on this programme, Bobby J and Tiding are both intimate and deeply resonant. In Bobby J Laurence Crane adds a low C to the guitar’s tuning and uses a simple volume pedal to magical effect as a series of characteristically bold and beautiful harmonies swell and unfold. With a tuning based on the overtone partials of an 11Hz ground frequency, Lisa Illean’s Tiding explores many overlapping layers of resonance and melody. The textures are enhanced by means of a capture pedal as the music creates counterpoint against frozen memories of its own gentle undulations.
Cuerdas was written for Sam Cave in 2017 by Alastair Putt. Characteristic of the composer, both as a musician and a person, this music is rhythmically intricate, texturally highly detailed, and harmonically bold: a beautiful soul at work.
About Sam Cave
English guitarist and composer Sam Cave is one of the guitar’s leading exponents of new music.
Sam’s performances in the UK and abroad include appearances at Kings Place, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Nonclassical, The Institute of Contemporary Arts, LSO St. Luke’s, AVGARDE concert series in Norway, the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre, November Music in the Netherlands and the Tianjin May Festival in Tianjin, China. Sam has been a Park Lane Group Young Artist and has recorded for both Another Timbre and Metier record labels. His playing has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Late Junction and The New Music Show. His passion for mixed chamber music has led to performances with many leading new music groups including Octandre Ensemble, Apartment House, Riot Ensemble and Explore Ensemble.
Sam studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Gary Ryan and Chris Stell with financial assistance from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust. He has also studied with Vincent Lindsey-Clark, Michael Zev Gordon, Michael Finnissy, Gilbert Biberian and Craig Ogden and graduated from the University of Southampton with first class honours and the Edward Wood memorial prize in music. In 2020 Sam completed a PhD in composition at Brunel University, London under the supervision of Christopher Fox and John Croft.
As a composer Sam’s work has been performed in the UK, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Lithuania, Italy, Australia and the USA by some of the most exciting young ensembles and soloists working today. He has been an LSO Soundhub Associate Composer since 2017 and his music is published by Babelscores. Now also an educator in much demand, Sam is currently a tutor in guitar at Brunel University, London, he has been a guest lecturer in composition for guitar at Coventry University and a lecturer in composition and orchestration at Kingston University. Sam plays on a ‘super-concert guitar’ by Dutch luthier Jeroen Hilhorst.