David Dubery: Composer’s Update
About this time last year, I reviewed an exciting retrospective
called ‘Songs & Chamber Music’ by David Dubery. I was impressed
by nearly every track. Since then I have heard a couple of other
pieces of his music. The first, Oberon’s Delight
oboe and string quartet, was at a concert in Wilmslow celebrating
counter-tenor James Bowman’s 70th birthday. This is a well-considered
piece reflecting the character of Oberon as realised by Bowman
in Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream
. The second
was in a recent 2-CD exploration of Antony Hopkins’ music: Dubery
had contributed a short piece to Eight Tributes to Antony
, which was presented to the composer in 2011. These
were gifted by eight contemporary composers including Gordon Crosse,
David Ellis and Anthony Gilbert. Dubery’s contribution was the
‘delicious’ ‘Evening in April’ for soprano, recorder and piano.
This work is based on a poem by David Gibson from his collection
The Singing Earth
. It is a heart-achingly beautiful piece
Biographically, three things need to be borne in mind about David
Dubery. Firstly, he was born in Durban in South Africa in 1948
and in 1961 he came to his mother’s home town of Manchester. Secondly,
from an early age he composed music and was a junior at the Northern
School of Music from1964-66. He subsequently studied there as
an undergraduate until 1970 and followed this with a post-graduate
year specializing in piano accompaniment. His performing career
is that of accompanist working in the fields of stage and broadcasting.
And lastly, from a compositional point of view, he works with
a traditional musical language that is always approachable, but
is sometimes demanding. He prefers to compose miniatures rather
than large scale pieces, however amongst the songs and the chamber
pieces there are a few music-theatre pieces such as Once upon
and an American styled musical called Love Lines.
Although there is no symphony, (yet) there are a number of concerted
works and tone poems.
Dubery has told me that there have been some excellent reviews
of his CD in the British and American press. David DeBoor Canfield
in the Fanfare Magazine
states that this ‘disc is a delight
from beginning to end’. He suggests that the composer ‘writes
in a style that is both immediately accessible and richly rewarding.
The lyricism of this very tonal music is underpinned by harmonies
that are imaginative and unexpected’. D. Moore commenting in the
American Record Guide
notes that Dubery’s ‘music has
a traditional flavour to it...’ and that his ‘... idiom is romantic
at heart with a leaning towards jazz.’
On 13 July 2012 the RTE Lyric fm radio station broadcast a number
of tracks from the ‘Songs & Chamber Music’ album on the Paul
Herriot Lyric Concert. It is still available as a podcast.
In my review
of Dubery’s CD, I wrote that the masterpiece (in my opinion) was
the Cello Sonata. This work was originally written for double
bass and piano, however that work was seemingly abandoned. The
Sonata in its present form was completed in 2006 and lasts for
about eleven minutes. It is in three movements. This is a lyrical
work that sits fairly and squarely in a late twentieth century
tradition of music that does not greatly challenge the listener
with issues of musical language, but certainly makes demands on
their emotional engagement. The heart of the work is the deeply
felt ‘lento’ – which is both profound and moving. The composer
suggests that this music was inspired by a tramp across the hills
above Varenna, near Lake Como in Italy. I felt that there was
not a bar of this piece that is not interesting, enjoyable and
satisfying. In addition, I concluded by believing that this was
an important Cello Sonata that must surely enter the repertoire.
This importance has been recognised in two future performances
of this work. These are on 11 October 2012 at St Olave’s Church,
Hart Street and on 25 October 2012 in ‘London and Music’ at St
Pancras’ Lunchtime Music series. The performers will be the distinguished
cellist Felicity Vincent with pianist Richard Black.
New compositions from Dubery’s pen include a Sonata for Recorder
& Piano due to be recorded for CD release in a collection
of Sonatas by the end of August 2012. The performers will be John
Turner (recorder) with Harvey Davies (piano). The CD should be
available in 2013.
(which also featured on his CD in an arrangement
for recorder, bassoon and piano) will be published in 2013 by
Emerson Wind Music. This will be in a version for flute, bassoon
& piano with optional recorder. I felt that the flute edition
would ultimately be more satisfying. Escapades
nally had the bassoonist
Graham Salvage in mind. The musical idea is to present material
as a conversation or dialogue between all three players. The suite
has great variety, with an opening movement of considerable metrical
change; the second is a bit hard-edged and has ‘oriental’ overtones.
The third is a rhapsody of some beauty, whilst the final movement
is a neo-classical dance.
Finally, information has been received that a USA premiere of
, that was written for, and performed
by James Bowman, will take place in Chicago next April (2013).
The soloists have yet to be announced.
John France August 2012