Danceries (Set II)


From the WASBE Repertoire Blog for Session #3 (with the Philharmonic Winds (Singapore)) and submitted by Joe Brashier on Wed 6 July 2011: Danceries Set II is in four movements and follows composer Kenneth Hesketh's Danceries (Set I) from 1999. This 15-minute Grade 5 work once again uses material from Playford's Dancing Master. Composed in 2010, it is published by Faber. Movement 1 is Jennie's Bawbee. In this morning's session, only a brief portion of the opening was performed, but enough to know that it is march-like. The second movement, Tom Tinker's Toye, has a nice simple melody with the addition of woodwind flourishes for melodic ornamentation. The parts underneath the melody are complex and one reason this is a Grade 5. There is much contrast between the woodwinds and brass--some brief moments of full brass, but the brass primarily interjects short musical thoughts. I love the end--the sound just dissipates into the timpani. Heart's Ease is the third movement. Medium slow and in 3/4, the opening melody appears in the oboe and is soon joined by melodious woodwinds. In this movement I find that the composer has taken simple melodic ideas and transformed them into a 21st-century musical language. It ends with sustained upper woodwinds. The final movement is Peascod's Galliarda, which could be done in fast 3/4 or in one. The opening half of this movement most closely resembles its Renaissance roots, especially in the harmonic movement in the brass. The second half takes on a more contemporary flavor. The ending is brimming with excitement which brings it to a fitting close. I find Danceries (Set II) to be very different from the first set, but in a good way. The first Danceries from 1999 is more of a complex arrangement of the material borrowed from Dancing Master. However, this new set is truly original in every way. I have always enjoyed the first set, but I like this new Danceries even more!

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