‘It was of a tenderer cut than the opera, and full of the restless searching charm that underpins his best work.’ The Guardian
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For the Concert Paraphrase I have taken four scenes from my first opera, Powder Her Face, and freely transcribed them as a piano piece. The opera's libretto, by the novelist Philip Hensher, paints the portrait of a Duchess of a certain age at the end of the twentieth century and the end of British aristocratic influence. In the opera the Duchess's grace and glamour are figured in the music by a certain virtuosity which encouraged me to feel that parts of the music would translate into a piano Paraphrase rather in the manner of Liszt or Busoni.
The first scene is Scene One, my "Ode to Joy", here the Duchess's perfume, Joy by Patou. The second scene in the Paraphrase is Scene Five, "Is Daddy Squiffy?". The third scene is Scene Four, the Aria "Fancy being Rich!". The Paraphrase ends with the Eighth and final scene of the opera and the aria "It is too Late", in which the dead Duke returns as Hotel Manager to evict the Duchess from the room in which she lives, and the closing Tango in which the room is made ready for the next occupant.
Commissioned by Vancouver Recital Society, San Francisco Performances Inc. and The Barbican Centre, London