Recorder, Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord (1971)

Translations was commissioned by David Munrow and two of his colleagues in the Early Music Consort – Oliver Brooks, viola da gamba, and Christopher Hogwood, harpsichord. They gave the first performance on 20 February 1971. The first broadcast was given by the Legrand Ensemble on 31 August 1978.

The work’s starting point was a series of chords playable on the treble recorder, and another on a stopped descant recorder. The use of twentieth-century techniques ‘translates’ all the instruments from their historic context.

Translations is in five sections – the first and last are slow, using the least familiar aspects of recorder and gamba – and create a frame for the whole piece. The second section opens with a simple tune for recorder and harpsichord, against which the gamba develops an independent cadenza. This leads to cadenzas for all the players, followed by a slow dirge, then a kind of jazz fugue which brings back the simple recorder tune in slow notes against the busy recorder and gamba - translated from its original context. The piece evaporates into a quiet epilogue with some of the distorted sounds with which it all began.

© 2008-24 Estate of Peter Dickinson