Lullaby for Elliott : trumpet solo
by Simon Reade (2018)
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Library shelf no. 788.92/REA 2 [Available for loan]
The occasion for realising this work was the birth of Elliott Paul Reade, the composer's third son, which instigated a third lullaby and exploration of lullaby structure.
The inception of the work (with a working title of 'Celebration') for solo trumpet can be traced to the original intention of commemorating the passing of American composer Elliott Carter (1908-2012) four years earlier. Reference made to Carter's own solo trumpet work, 'Retracing III' , underscores the "retracing" undertaken by Reade with regard to original lullaby material in this piece.
"When I started thinking about my celebration work in 2014 it was a 2 trumpet piece which morphed into a piano piece that went nowhere. When I started thinking of this lullaby it was as a piano duet which morphed into a trumpet solo! So the links across the pieces were very organic once the piece started to reveal itself." (Simon Reade, quoted from correspondence with Simon Barber).
The four year inception period of this work has brought with it an accumulation of influences, both musical and biographical. In 1985 Elliott Carter wrote a 70thbirthday tribute entitled 'Esprit Rude/Esprit Doux II' for the late French composer, Pierre Boulez (1925-2016), containing the Boulez cipher (Bb, C, A, E) which, along with a six-note set from bars 69-70 of the same piece, provide figurative and literal structural components for Lullaby for Elliott.
These impulses, in turn, gave rise to the application of what Edward Campbell has identified as Boulez' conception of "virtual thematicism", whereby "implied" rather than "virtual" might be a more accurate rendering. In Reade's case one could speak of "implied melody": both the Brahms' Lullaby (also present in his first 'Lullaby for Owen') as well as Celtic melodies 'Dream Angus' and 'Casadh an tSugain' (common to all three lullabies and reflective of his wife Claire's cultural background) are made explicit by way of quotation.
Finally, the cipher "Reade Elliott", heard to the rhythm of 'Happy Birthday', provides two key structural points within the work: D, E, A, D, E, E, A, A, B, B - the "i" and "o" of "Elliott" are omitted, presumably for the sake of ellipsis, which would have resulted in an additional "B" and "A" respectively according to the French method of generating cryptograms applied by the composer.
The multiple layers of referencing have brought with them, naturally enough, an organic approach to dealing with emergent material, most apparent in the opening 'theme and variations' and most extrovert in the final section 'antistrophe', featuring a 'celebratory' explosion of minor third triplets.
Program note by Simon Barber
Instrumentation: Trumpet in C.
Duration: 5 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — This work involves a great deal of multi phonic singing
Lullaby for Elliott
Performances of this work
7 Jul 2021: at Michael Kieran Harvey's 60th Birthday Bash (Nolan Gallery, MONA).
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