February 2019 saw the release of a CD on the Nimbus label of music by Richard Blackford, prominently featuring the Solem Quartet. The first work on the disc, Seven Hokusai Miniatures, was written for the quartet in 2018 and is offered among their current programme proposals.
Richard Blackford is one of the country’s leading living composers and has had particular success across Europe with his works for television and film as well as for the concert hall and the stage. He was nominated in 2001 for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music for his 4-hour score for the CNN/BBC series Millennium, was awarded Die Goldene Deutschland in 2015 for services to music in Germany.
During 2019, five discs of his music will be released on four different record labels, including performances by the Czech Philharmonic, Aurora Orchestra, David Hill and Rupert Marshall-Luck. February’s Nimbus CD includes the Seven Hokusai Miniatures and two other works: Dragon Songs of Granny Chang in its original recording from 1981, and Five Naidu Songs where the Solem Quartet performs alongside mezzo-soprano Rosanna Cooper and clarinettist David Campbell.
The movements of the Seven Hokusai Miniatures are based on a selection of paintings by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Blackford chose paintings from Hokusai’s portfolio Ukiyo-e (or “pictures from the floating world”), which include representations of landscapes, seascapes and scenes from Japanese town and country life around Mount Fuji. The work was premiered by The Solem Quartet at the 2018 MusicFest Aberystwyth, and will also feature in some upcoming concert programmes. The quartet likes to present this work with a slideshow of the paintings which inspired each piece, taking the audience on a journey into the world of Hokusai.
The work features on one of the quartet’s current programme proposals, ‘Hokusai Pictures’, where it is framed between two Beethoven quartets. Blackford’s evocative miniatures are placed alongside the compelling lyricism of Beethoven’s Quartet no. 3 (op. 18/3) and the heroism of the third Razumovsky Quartet (op. 59/3).
The Seven Hokusai Miniatures are also offered as part of a one hour programme, where they paired with just the op. 59/3 quartet.
For a full list of the Solem Quartet’s programme proposals, please visit this page.