Unquiet

For solo guitar


Composition date: 2021

 

Information:


Unquiet was written as part of the Royal Academy of Music’s bicentenary project: a collection of 200 new solo pieces, which opened in 2019 with the first performance of the recently discovered Last Postcard from Sanday by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. It was first performed by Sergiu Hudrea at the Angela Burgess Recital Room, Royal Academy of Music, on 25th January 2022.


Programme note:


UNQUIET

for solo guitar

dur. c6’


Sally Beamish 2021



Variation 1: Adagio

Variation 2: Un poco piu mosso, quasi improv.

Variation 3: Allegretto giocoso

Variation 4: Allegro

Variation 5: Andante con moto

Tema: Adagio



I wrote this short set of variations as an exploration of the Dowland lute song Unquiet Thoughts. This was part of my work on a larger piece (Sonnets) for three pianists and two pianos, based on the story/theory that Shakespeare had two obsessive loves: the ‘dark lady’, and the ‘fair youth’, and that many of his sonnets were motivated by his ensuing turmoil; not least, when the two of them got together - excluding him, and causing him considerable jealousy and agony.


In the piano piece, I drew on the lute songs of John Dowland, including Unquiet Thoughts, which seemed particularly apt.


In these guitar variations, the theme comes last, and the piece opens with a spiky, bitter adagio, punctuated by repeated references to a chord sequence from the lute song. The second variation is contemplative and lyrical, and the third a quirky dance. Variation 4 is dramatic, passionate and virtuosic, again quoting the Dowland chord sequence, but this time as a flamenco-like figure. After this, the final variation is wistful and ruminative, and leads to a direct exposition of the Dowland theme.


Unquiet was written as part of the Royal Academy of Music’s bicentenary project: a collection of 200 new solo pieces, which opened in 2019 with the first performance of the recently discovered Last Postcard from Sanday by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. It was first performed by Sergiu Hudrea at the Angela Burgess Recital Room, Royal Academy of Music, on 25th January 2022.


I would like to thank the guitarist Arthur Dick for his technical advice and collaboration in string and timbre choices during the composition of this work; and thanks also to Sergiu Hudrea for his valuable input in performance preparation.


Sally Beamish 2021


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