CD A0092: Reaction

Double Action

CD Cover: ChildsplayDouble Action’s cutting-edge debut album Reaction features new music for two harps by; Paul Patterson, Dai Fujikura, Lex van Delden, Eleanor Turner and Geoffrey Poole. Keziah Thomas (harp) and Eleanor Turner (harp) are Double Action

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Audio Samples & Track Listing

Dai Fujikura
1 Locked Voices (2004) 4.57
2 Only (2001) 3.50
Geoffrey Poole
3 Kakemono (2004) 11.52
Paul Patterson
  Spiders. Opus 48 (1983)  
4   i Dancing White Lady   3.17
5   ii. Red Backed Spider   1.22
6   iii. Black Widow   3.14
7   iv. Tarantula   2.26
Eleanor Turner
8 Butterfies' Autumn (2004) 7.15
9 What do you see in the flames   5.45
Lex van Delden
  Concertino per Due Arpe (1962)  
10   Preludio   2.57
11   Interludio   2.21
12   Arietta   0.42
13   Intermezzo   2.06
14   Postludio   1.33
15   Coda quasi arietta   1.44


CD Notes & Credits

Reaction: the music

On 13 January 2005, as part of the Park Lane Group Young Artists Series, Double Action Harp Duo performed three World Premieres by British composers at London’s Purcell Room. Two of these – Locked Voices by Dai Fujikura and Kakemono by Geoffrey Poole – were commissioned by the Park Lane Group as a reaction to the rather disappointing lack of original British music that had been written for this wonderful duo of harps!

Also premiered at the Park Lane Group recital was Butterflies’ Autumn by Eleanor Turner, which is a reflective work written from the harpist’s point of view. An earlier and much loved highlight of the harp duo repertoire is Dutch composer Lex van Delden’s Concertino per due arpe, Opus 76, which is the culminative piece on this album.

Keziah and Eleanor also perform two solo compositions that are of great personal significance. After hearing her interpretation of Spiders, Paul Patterson gave Keziah his blessing to make the premiere recording. Eleanor chose her own composition What do you see in the Flames? for its passionate stream-of-consciousness flow, in contrast to the more measured structure of Butterflies’ Autumn.

Locked Voices Dai Fujikura

When I wrote this piece, I didn't know who I was writing for. It was a deal with Park Lane Group. They would make me a featured composer in their January concert series, in return I had to write a short piece for 2 harps. I had no idea who was going to premiere the work.

I started thinking about the piece. First I imagined two harps, then two harpists, then two blond girls playing harps, the rest of the fantasy was quite distracting, and it would be embarrasing to go into detail. Back to the drawing board. Two Harps. Good. Two Harpists. Good. Blond Girls playing the harp. Distraction. Somehow I could not get these two blond harpists out of my mind. They wore less make up than soprani and were less reserved than orchestral flute players. They were angelic. But back to the drawing board. Two Harps. Good. Two Harpists. Good. Blond Girls playing the harp. Distraction. Oh well, better work with what I have. Have you watched wrestling on the TV? It is so wierd. I thought it would be really great if these blond girls (or angels even) played a piece which is really aggressive, mean, and nasty. Rather like women's wrestling. They are fighting each other. I thought that this would be lovely and also very sexy.

First I wrote a fast energetic toccata-like section, then I decided that there will be no pedal changes in this entire piece. So they will have no excuses for any mistakes! This also makes the piece harmonically locked in one specific field. To add more texture I also employ many bisbigliandi.

Dai Fujikura
(edited by Harry Ross)

....only... Dai Fujikura

This is quite a melancholic little piece. The image I had was one little flower is opening up very slowly. The camera is close up on the flower but while the flower is slowly opening up, the camera pulls out slowly to see the surrounding. The surrounding is dark, a black and white world, but the flower itself has very bright colour. It is like a film noir movie where only one object is of colour in the black and white setting.

Dai Fujikura

Kakemono Geoffrey Poole

Kakemono was written in Autumn 2004 to a commission from Park Lane Group for Double Action’s London debut on 13 January 2005. The title, though adopted from the Japanese language, is the Chinese word for a long scroll of painting or calligraphy that is unfurled downwards (as opposed to makimono, viewed horizontally). At times the music sounds Chinese, with its pentatonic basis and scoring that recalls the mellow plucked sounds of the ch’in. It is tempting for the listener to conjure up a real picture, starting with an Emperor’s palace and moving to images of flight, battle, distance and separation, and return.

The two harps have individual personalities, which begin in harmony then gradually move away from each other. They meet in joyful unison in the middle section, which exploits the percussive nature of the instrument. Kakemono is a virtual painting that has characteristics of Chinese scrolls; openness, deft brushwork, strong line, simple images, complex combinations, and brilliance within a meditative space. There is a sense of unfurling the scroll bit by bit, and finally taking in the whole picture.

Geoffrey Poole

Spiders Paul Patterson

Spiders was first performed by Sioned Williams in London at the Wigmore Hall in 1985. No doubt when hearing this piece all sorts of images will be conjured up of the enchanting world of the spider. The very sight of the harp strings always reminds me of a spider’s web and perhaps the harpist hands and fingers could be likened to that of the spider weaving a complicated web. The idea to write a work called Spiders came to me after a visit to Australia where a great variety of spiders are to be found in abundance, and where incidentally I was almost bitten by a Red Backed! Whose favourite spot is to wait under the toilet seat! The movements are named after four of the most deadly spiders! The "Dancing White Lady" is a fast 7/8 movement with lots of crossed rhythms where the sight of legs flying in all directions could be visualised. Sharp irregular motives represent the "Red Backed Spider" who sits patiently for its prey before it strikes with great speed. In the "Black Widow" movement we enter the mysterious world of timelessness as the spider relentlessly weaves its web. The last movement, a tarantella, is a wild Neapolitan dance in triple time; it is believed to take its name from the "Tarantula" whose poisonous bite is said causes a "hysterical impulse to dance"!

Paul Patterson

Butterflies’ Autumn Eleanor Turner

In the summer of 2004 I took my young son Iñaky to the Butterfly Park at Rutland Water, near to where I live. Always filled with the magic of each fresh experience, Iñaky was instantly captivated by the agile, delicate creatures. We became regular visitors to the park and soon I too became enthralled like a child by the butterflies.

I imagined two harps facing each other on stage, symmetrical like butterfly wings, as I traced in my mind the mesmerizing, sporadic, beautiful flight paths of the butterflies. I wanted the final section of the piece to be a handful of butterflies released into the air for the autumn breeze to catch hold of.

The opening of Butterflies’ Autumn depicts the chrysalis, frosty and unyielding. Inside this brittle casing (throughout the piece strings are sometimes tapped or stroked with triangle beaters) stirs a new life, becoming warmer from inside, desiring its freedom. The structure of the central section is like a sonnet; fourteen phrases of ten-bar length. The cocoon is peeled away, harmonies shifting phrase by phrase, eventually uniting as the husk falls away and the butterflies flit joyously amongst the summer fruits and flowers.

What do you see in the flames?

When I was little, my mother used to sit me in front of the open fire and challenge me to see things in the flames – lions, bears, castles…that sort of thing. If you have ever tried this then you will know that at first you see just the fire, then you take in the colours; orange, blue, white, green. After this your face gets hot and red and you feel as though you’ve got your nose pressed up against a window pane and you’re straining to see what’s beyond.

It’s a bit like looking into water. You see your reflection, but sometimes you are captivated by something in the distance that stretches deep into your imagination. The harder you stare, the more blurred your own face becomes and the more real the distant shape appears. You are looking deep into yourself and into your past.

The details that you so desperately want to remember, about a person’s face, or their laugh, or the way they looked at you…just won’t come properly into focus. But the strangest things – the billowing stuff of pink curtains, that 80s song on vinyl, that feeling you got by the side of the road – will always be there in the flames.

Concertino per due arpe, Opus 76 Lex van Delden
1. Preludio 2. Interludio 3. Arietta 4. Intermezzo 5. Postludio 6. Coda quasi arietta

Concertino per Due Arpe was written in 1962 and is dedicated to the respected Dutch harpist Phia Berghout. This work is treasured by harpists worldwide and was, at her wish, the only piece of music to be performed at Phia Berghout’s funeral. Haunted by the tragic loss of much of his family at the hands of the Nazis, van Delden’s music is weighted with memories of repression and intense suffering.

Lex van Delden draws on the techniques of conventional harp writing yet within his own distinctive sound world. The constant interplay of gently undulating arpeggios contrasted with tight military rhythms unnerves the listener and paints a sinister picture. Concertino employs the full compass of two concert harps to express a vast range of dynamics and emotion. The mood towards the end of the piece becomes more hopeful and the harmonies suggest the existence of another world beyond this one in which we can live together in greater peace and unity.


Locked Voices and Kakemono were commissioned by Park Lane Group for first performance at the Purcell Room, London on 13 January 2005.
Double Action is extremely grateful to Stamford Young Peoples Charity for their generous funding of this cd.

Recorded by James Boyd at the Priory Church of St. Mary and the Holy Cross, Binham, Norfolk on 11 & 12 April 2005

Arist & Album Information

Title Reaction
Artist Double Action
Instruments: Two Harps
Genre: Contemporary / Classical
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0092
Label: Art in Fusion
Year: 2005
Origin: UK

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