Partita Concordia for string trio

Hi All,

Thought I'd post this for your ears. The work is in 9 movements, all contrapuntal in some way and (for those with more delicate ears!) it's tonal. Inspired by Bach of course, but not really in his language. It is my 'Pulcinella' moment and harks back to forms from the 16thC cf. with a few twists.

Hope you dip in and enjoy some of it, the whole thing lasts about 20 odd minutes and is performed by Alexandra Wood on violin, Levine Andrade on viola and Richard Harwood on cello. Recorded at the Menuhin Hall in Surrey UK. You can also see a score movie here rather than opening all the files below..

All comments good or bad welcome.......(btw, there is another bloody fugue in there).

Partita.part1 - Full Score.pdf

partita.part.2 - Full Score.pdf


You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –


  • Mike,

        Too much music to digest.  There are slow times on the forum when we are aching to hear any listenable music.  Why not post one piece at a time and spread them out?  Anyway, my thoughts on the prelude.

         The first section was forgettable because there is no unifying theme.  The listener wants to be led by pattern and melody.  There is plenty of pattern which is interesting and appeals to the intellect but I never really felt the music.  It was too disjointed and somewhat rambling.   The toccata I enjoyed for the opposite reasons.  You pulled in the listeners ear with a nice melody then came the sudden contrast with the agitato section.  The song section was beautiful and my favorite, overtones of Ravel.  The opening was sweet, sentimental followed by a playful (Morning song of the Jester) rendition, and back to the sentimental ending.  Updating Ravel, you can't go wrong with that.  The Variations were interesting and playful.  The ending was fantastic, but how to render a triple forte with two instruments.  This would sound awesome orchestrated.  Can I steal this ending sometime?

  • @Lawrence,

    I suspect you were listening to the violin sonata and not the Partita.  Never mind though, a reasonably good review is a reasonably good review and I'll take it, even the negatives. Thanks for listening Lawrence and you can steal the ending if you retract the negatives... deal?  :-)


    I always err on the bleak side. Thanks for the clarification and making me happier.


    Thanks for listening. Yes I did post the Galliard previously, but here it is in context. Very pleased you liked it and I appreciate your considered and flattering comments. It was an interesting challenge to write this work but an enjoyable one as I have a deep musical affinity with the 15th,16th and 17th centuries and found out that our national anthem (God save the Queen) is a Galliard!

    I don't know the Sibelius but am curious enough to hunt it out, I love his symphonies though.

  • I also love the Sibelius symphonies, though, to be frank, I find his aforementioned quartet more difficult to get into. But then again, I've always been biased towards symphonic music so my evaluation is probably biased.  That you managed to keep my interest in a medium I don't often like to listen to should be counted as an achievement. ;-)

  • Hi Mike,

    If you are interested, this is a section of The Rake's Progress that your piece evoked (in a very good way):

    And if you don't know it, his Cantata (kind of obscure piece written just after Rake's Progress) has some similar loveliness:

    Mike Hewer said:


    I'll address you all in one if you don't mind as it I hate the way multiple posts look as though one has taken over the forum!!!!


    Thanks John, I'm pleased some of it got to you. Funnily enough, The Rake is one of the few pieces by Igor that I don't know, but I do have a cd and will listen to it soon. Yes the bookends are freer by their very nature, the rest as they are all sort of dance related, had some formal cohesion and rhythmic necessity.

    The wonkiness came about as I was appending separate scores into one in Sibelius, I didn't realise the postlude also had a title page until after I'd posted.


    Thanks to you too Gregorio, delighted you enjoyed them and thank you for the compliments. I am particularly gratified that they worked as a whole for you, the arc was an important part of the conception.

    I too can hear the influences you mention, maybe not a bad thing eh?


    Hope you had a good nights' sleep and thanks for listening and your kind words. The harmonic crunches are an essential ingredient in these pieces in an attempt to try and keep them one level above pastiche. I hope you get time to take in a few more and enjoy them.


  • Mike,

    you mention:' good luck with the 4tet.'

    I now realize this (also) was a subtle reminder that yours is a trio - which i temporarily  forgot (even though i was reading the score!) while commenting - and said 'SQ'.. I must chalk this up to the incredible richness and depth of the sound for just 3 players.. :)  - or the more frightening - early onset of alzheimer's 

  • @Gregorio: yeah, I found this entire suite surprisingly rich in sonority for a mere 3 instruments.  It's very quartet-like in sound in many places. Another testament to the quality of writing, I suppose.

  • This is a masterful work Mike, and I enjoyed it and was able to learn from it, your talent and skill are obvious. I have always liked the suite/partita concept where short pieces combine to make a larger work and I think the "arc" definitely works for this. Writing an effective extended work for a small group is a test and you did an excellent job.

    I like the way you add your own language to traditional forms, that's very effective to my ear and not easy to do. I'm not a fan of double stops for strings though, to my ear it sounds strained for some reason. I think they are very effective when used occasionally, like pizz. or harmonics as you have done here, but not for extended passages, just me I guess.

    I especially liked the mysterious ending of the Sarabande, the viola solos in the Pavane and Galliard and the pizz accompaniment at the beginning of the Galliard, well after all the double stops at least. :)

    The Gigue-fugue lost me, that's just me of course, but  . . . no double stops though . . . .

    Great work, and a wonderful performance, thanks for posting!

  • Mike,

         Re: Prelude,  Beautiful, with some semblance of melody and seventh chords underneath.  The dissonance builds tension and sadness but does resolve at the end.  Evocative of a conversation which comes to a conclusion.  So much modern music seems to have no beginning and no end.  I am not ready to delve into this type of composing but maybe someday.  This piece evokes emotion and makes sense. 

         Double stops?  Why pay two musicians when one can do the work of two. 

  • @John,

    That cantata is beautiful. I couldn't access the Rake video, but listened to act 2 scene 2 on my cd, I then listened to the whole thing. What music is there, oh boy, I'm going to get to know this, can't believe it has just sat in my collection for so long being neglected. Thanks for alerting me. 
    I see what you mean, I hear some of my (?) tonal harmonic practice in some of what he's done ...the thieving b******...  :-), do you think I could sue him? (But to be honest, it was his Pulcinella, or at least the concept thereof, that inspired me originally).


    Thanks Dave, very much appreciated. Lol very much at simpering tone whore. It seems as though you are not so much a hard core tone whore but I do know your ears are open to it. The thing is, even though I'm writing stuff at the moment that would make some ears curl, I always go back to this language because I do enjoy it and I think there's more for me to find in it.

    Re the stops, it was an integral part of the sound - one designed to evoke an older feel and the players played with less vib than normal. The open strings in particular give a drone like quality in places, reminiscent of period playing. If it was to be arranged for more players, I would perhaps change spacings and maybe thin out here and there. Your intuition is correct, the writing is exclusively for the chosen medium and for maximal impact.

    BTW the postlude is a sort of inversion of the prelude albeit not in an absolutely strict musical sense.


    You're too kind Ingo. I wonder if  stops sound strained to you partly because it is impossible to impart vibrato in most cases and so  they lack the full warmth of tone you get with single notes. As I've said to Dave, the stops are a deliberate ploy applied with a definite intent here.

    It did take a few years for me to formulate a harmonic practice like this, I don't claim it to be original, but I can personalise it to some extent and it is fertile. If it is communicating to you and others, then I am very happy. Thanks for listening.

    @HS and Gregorio,

    It was a major aim from the inception to make it sound very full (see response to Dave). I deliberately flexed any multiple stop muscles I had here and was gratified that there wasn't a single complaint from the players, apart from the fact that we only had about 7 hours to record the whole lot! But these guys are some of the UK's finest so I was in safe hands.


    So glad you enjoyed it. As far as writing in your own voice, I think the commendable pieces that you've posted in the last few months may have already started to give you more options when composing - the more you learn the more you'll be able to discern and achieve what you want. You must have noticed a change in your thinking pre and post Holst study, yes?, no? Anyhow, I'm always banging on about that so I'll shut up.

    OK you've called me, despite what I've said above about integral design, evoking the past etc, it was all down to my budget, damn I nearly got away with it....:-)

This reply was deleted.