Now in its 69th year, Cheltenham Music Festival brings world-class performances and classical music events to this Regency town for a twelve day musical celebration from 3-14 July. This year the festival will feature three new works by brothers Colin and David Matthews. You would never know from the music by David Matthews that he was related to Colin. By the same token Colin’s own music is from a totally different nerve centre. It is perhaps extraordinary that 2 brothers, close in age, produce music so totally distinctive from each other. It’s therefore a lovely idea that the Cheltenham Festival has chosen to feature pieces by both brothers – who are in one sense only united and that is by their association with Benjamin Britten.
On 5 July, The Schubert Ensemble will premiere Colin Matthews’s piano trio Nowhere to Hide. The work has been commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble to celebrate their 30th Anniversary. The title, Nowhere to hide, takes its title from a chance remark Matthews made to John Adams about the problems of writing piano trios, ‘nowhere to hide’ came the response. Matthews explains more:
‘It is no easy ensemble to write for, in the first place because John Adams is quite right; but also because there is such a distinguished body of work in existence... What became the first movement took me a long time to write. And I was not entirely sure of the direction that the rest of the work was going to take when the news of Elliott Carter’s death in November 2012 made me put the trio aside and write a little Berceuse for piano in his memory. This unanticipated music became the basis of the second movement, and also influenced the mood of the fourth. The third movement takes over the brief scherzo-like episodes from the elaborate structure of the first movement (which is as long as the other three movements combined) to provide a lightning-fast ‘Scherzino.’
In the same concert, The Schubert Ensemble’s pianist William Howard, will give the second performance of David Matthews’s latest piano composition, Four Portraits, a 12-minute work for solo piano. The two brothers will then be on-hand for a Festival Lunch & Conversation, where they discuss their working relationship with Benjamin Britten, as well as spending time with the festival’s young composers’ academy.
The Matthews events conclude on 7 July with the premiere of David Matthews’s new concerto for violin, viola and strings (co-commissioned by the Cheltenham and Presteigne Festivals, along with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta). It will be performed by Welsh Sinfonia and soloists Anthony Marwood and Lawrence Power.