We are pleased to announce a new album of chamber works from Robin Walker. The album will include a range of works, including his magical double concerto for violin, recorder and string orchestra (A Prayer and a Dance of Two Spirits). Robin is already known to us. His tribute to the late John McCabe And Will you Walk Beside Me Down the Lane was featured on the highly praised recent album ‘A Garland for John McCabe’ released in February.
The album will be recorded over two sessions in the coming months. The first, at St. Thomas’s Church, Stockport, is on 5th July, with the Manchester Sinfonia conducted by Richard Howarth, who will record the double concerto for violin and recorder, A Prayer and a Dance of Two Spirits, with Emma McGrath (violin) and John Turner (recorder). At this session Emma will also record the solo violin piece She took me down to Cayton Bay specially commissioned for the disc by The Ida Carroll Trust. Robin is a native Yorkshireman, and Cayton Bay is a modest seaside resort on the Yorkshire coast. In the piece he has taken the opportunity to blend the ecstasy of the romantic violin with the grounded timelessness of folk-song. Being an exponent of folk-violin as well as a master performer of the concertos of the Romantic repertoire, Robin anticipates Emma’s complete understanding of the piece.
Emma will fly in especially for the recording session from Tasmania where she is Concert master of The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. She is a former associate leader of The Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and was a string finalist in The BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2002.
While in Stockport, John Turner will record Walker’s solo recorder piece A Rune for St Mary’s. St. Mary’s is the parish church of Stockport and the ‘rune’ the piece is based on is a thousand-year-old stone cross in a field above the farm where the composer lives in the Pennine Hills of Northern England. From some angles it looks like a cross – from other angles it seems to be a primitive stone face presiding over the hillside.
The second recording session will be in late September, during which two pieces for double bass will be recorded by the virtuoso player Leon Bosch. The more recent of the two pieces involved Robin taking lessons on the instrument. He remembers that in the course of the lessons “it was like getting to know a large and unusual person, several centuries older than myself.” The solo piece is called The Song of Bone on Stone and it sings of human fragility (‘bone’) in contact with the implacable permanence of Nature (‘stone’). The recording session will also include a solo cello piece called His Spirit Over The Waters, performed by Jennifer Langridge, and is a memorial for a university colleague of Robin’s in Manchester.
In addition to the works to be recorded this summer, the album will contain one older recording, the miniature string quartet I Thirst performed by Manchester Camerata Ensemble.
Robin Walker was born in York, England in 1953 and attended schools attached to York Minster – where he was Head Chorister – for ten years. He studied at Durham University with the Australian composer David Lumsdaine, and subsequently at the Royal College of Music in London with the late Anthony Milner. He taught at various universities for a decade before withdrawing from academic and city life. He moved to the Pennine Hills of the West Riding of Yorkshire in order to concentrate on composition, and has lived on or next to a farm for the last thirty years. His current preoccupation is with the instinctual basis of musical tradition, and its expression in opera.