The Music of Nigel Keay

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Katherine Mansfield et la musique

Concert by the ensemble "Traces d'Aujourd'hui" with the exceptional participation of Sébastien Hurtaud, cellist

Saturday 14 October 2023 à 4.30pm, at the Manoir de Bel-Ébat, Avon.

Katherine Mansfield et la musique

Programme :

Arnold Trowell - Viola Sonata, Op. 21 (ca. 1922) (in three movements) (18' 40")
Nigel Keay, viola
Isabelle Dutel, piano

Arnold Trowell - Six Morceaux for cello and piano, Op.20 (1908) (15' 33")

Nigel Keay - Prelude for cello and piano (2014) (7' 25")
Sébastien Hurtaud, cello
Isabelle Dutel, piano

Vera Beauchamp / Katherine Mansfield - Love's Entreaty, Night (4' 34")
Jean-Claude Wolff - Poèmes orientaux, "Seasons, ten Haikai"
on the poems of Buson, (8' 46")
Ross James Carey - Two Poems of Katherine Mansfield, (There is a Solemn Wind
Tonight, Sea Song)
(9' 58")
Nigel Keay - Voices of the Air
a setting of the poem by Katherine Mansfield (6' 09")
Kayla Collingwood, contralto
Isabelle Dutel, piano

Arnold Trowell - Viola Sonata, Op. 21

The date of composition of Arnold Trowell's Viola Sonata is not known with any precision, however, Trowell was the cellist in Lionel Tertis's group The Chamber Music Players in 1922 and the early part of 1923, so it was most likely composed sometime around that period. There is nothing documented about a performance of the work by Tertis, and John White's book on Tertis mentions the Sonata only as being associated with Tertis. The manuscript was in the hands of Robert Scott ( for several decades, from sometime in the eighties. He produced a manuscript copy of the Sonata with some passages written out in a different key signature, with the goal of simplifying some of the enharmonic spellings.

Arnold Trowell - Six Morceaux for cello and piano, Op.20 (1908)

The Six Morceaux for cello and piano were published by Schott in 1908, and printed on the title page is; "Dedicated to my dear friend Kathleen M. Beauchamp" (Katherine Mansfield). In Wellington the Beauchamp family were friends with the Trowell family, and Katherine Mansfield learnt the cello from Arnold Trowell's father. She aspired to being a professional cellist but it was Arnold who became a known musician in Europe both as cellist and composer. Some of his works were published by Schott at the beginning of the 20th century, and a small number of works for cello are still in their current catalogue. Along with the pianist Vera Moore he was one of the most visible NZ-born musicians in Europe at that time.

Nigel Keay - Prelude for cello and piano (2014)

The idea of a piece for cello and piano was born mid-2013 when Kathryn Mosley contacted me about writing something for her duo with Joseph Spooner to perform in their 2014 recital. Prelude was performed in Paris on Thursday 19th June 2014, 7.30pm, by Joseph Spooner and Kathryn Mosley as part of their recital for the International Conference on Katherine Mansfield (19 - 21 June) organised by the Université de Paris III - Sorbonne Nouvelle in conjunction with the Katherine Mansfield Society. The recital featured works for cello and piano by NZ-born cellist and composer Arnold Trowell, Hugo Anson and the Cello Sonata (1915) of Claude Debussy.

The Prelude for Cello and Piano presents both instruments as equal partners in dialogue with each other. On several occasions lines are passed from one instrument to the other, sometimes criss-crossing to adopt the other's previous role.

Vera Beauchamp / Katherine Mansfield - Love's Entreaty, Night

Vera Beauchamp (Vera Bell) was the older sister of Katherine Mansfield. In 1903 along with younger sisters Charlotte and Katherine and the rest of the family, departed for London to further their education. They remained in London until 1907, when the whole family returned to New Zealand. It was during this time that the sisters wrote the songs Night and Love's Entreaty. At least one of the poems (and probably both) was written by Katherine on their voyage to Britain. The songs were published by German publishers Bote & Bock in 1904, no doubt funded by their father, Sir Harold Beauchamp. There is no evidence that Vera's interest in composition went beyond these two songs. In 1909 she married eminent geologist James Bell (a Canadian), and they moved to Canada just prior to the First World War, where she lived for the rest of her life.

Jean-Claude Wolff - Poèmes orientaux, "Saisons, dix Haikai"

Along with Basho, Buson is the greatest Japanese haikai poet. His very delicate and understated poems are often devoted to nature, the seasons and colours as well as largely to sounds, sonorities, but never with a descriptive intention. Almost reduced to the poetic essence of the visual and the sound, they form an evocation or an affect. This is what I modestly undertook to translate musically, without trying to imitate them, but couching them in a writing that one could almost call impressionist, sometimes in the spirit of Debussy preludes or Kurtag's aphorisms.

Ross James Carey - Two Poems of Katherine Mansfield

1. There is a Solemn Wind Tonight
2. Sea Song

The two poems of Katherine Mansfield's I've chosen both resonate for me on a very intimate level. 'There is a Solemn Wind Tonight' speaks of that elemental force of nature that every born and bred Wellingtonian feels in their bones, and that perhaps continues to have a mysterious kind of hold upon our psyches. Sea Song likewise is an ode to memory, those bittersweet echoes of a more carefree existence that Mansfield seems to acknowledge begrudgingly: 'Memory dwells in my faraway home/She has nothing to do with me'. 'Sea Song' concludes with an extended passage for piano solo during which our poet/protagonist attempts to reconcile her alienated present with an idealised yet ultimately out of reach past. Two Poems of Katherine Mansfield were composed in Xinzheng, China in May & June 2023 and are dedicated to their first interpreters, Tessa Romano and Sherry Grant, and to John Sharpley, like K.M. a fellow traveller across cultures and a chronicler of imaginative power.

Nigel Keay - Voices of the Air

Voices of the Air is a setting of the poem by Katherine Mansfield for mezzo-soprano and piano, and was composed in July 2023 for Sherry Grant and Tessa Romano. Between each stanza is a micro-interlude for the piano alone, thus as a consequence the song has a somewhat undulating form, where the music of the verses tends toward the minimal, and that of the piano generates more activity, in effect a wave motion in reference to the "sea and wind" of the text. Concurrently with working on Voices of the Air I was preparing a work by Arnold Trowell for an upcoming performance, a work that was almost certainly composed in Katherine Mansfield's lifetime, and we know that Mansfield would've been familiar with Trowell's music, so it seemed appropriate, while setting the poem, to be immersed in this particular sound-world.

Voices of the Air was written in 1916. Katherine Mansfield's brother, Leslie Heron Beauchamp died 6 October 1915 aged 21 years old and is buried at Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery, Belgium.

The Prieuré des Basses-Loges in Avon and its proximity to the Manoir de Bel-Ébat.

Katherine Mansfield's last weeks were spent in the community established by Georges Gurdjieff at the Prieuré des Basses-Loges in Avon. The Prieuré is very close to the Manoir as both places originally had an interest in the locality for the water source - the Prieuré for the mill, and the Bel-Ébat to replenish the hunting dogs.

The first owner of the Bel-Ébat Domain was Denis de Chailly, Seigneur de Chailly in the 15th Century He donated his mill, built on his land, to the monks of Charité Notre-Dame inhabiting the Prieuré des Basses-Loges. Henri IV 1553 – 1610 was a subsequent owner having a hunting lodge built where the manor is now situated.

Later on Léon Marcotte 1823 – 1887 and Louise Marcotte 1837 – 1896 became owners. Louise, a scholar and artist at the same time, regularly held a salon in Bel-Ébat and invited all her friends, painters, poets, musicians and literary people. It was she who painted the walls of the so-called "herbarium" living room, almost 150 years ago. Very close friends in life, Madame Marcotte and Madame Durand (wife of Auguste) met regularly

Auguste Durand became the owner from 1888. He regularly invited his composer friends to the Manoir (Gabriel Fauré, Camille Saint-Saëns, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Paul Dukas among the most famous guests). Taking advantage of this haven allowed them to escape the busy Parisian life, and for some, to find great inspiration for their compositions. Living during the week in Paris, Bel-Ébat then became the Durand family's weekend escape.

Ravel frequently found himself at Bel-Ébat, where, like Debussy, he was a privileged guest. Published by Durand from 1905, he worked with Jacques Durand. His friendship with the publisher was not as strong as between the latter and Debussy, but Jacques Durand would always have a deep admiration for Ravel.

Today the Manoir de Bel-Ébat is preserved with the pianos from Durand's time, and is owned by the Ville d'Avon.