Richard Harvey: Concerto Incantato for Recorder & Piano [Printed Music]
For me, as for many children, the first musical instrument was the recorder. My father brought one home for me when I was three. Through playing the recorder, I learned to read music to a decent standard at an early age, which was very helpful. Although I ranged across a multitude a woodwind instruments before going on to become a composer, I never stopped playing the recorder.
So, in 2009, when Leanne Nichols of the Hong Kong City Chamber Orchestra asked me to write a concerto for Michala Petri, I was very happy to take on the commission. My only problem was that I was doing a lot of travelling at the time, but I soon found a way around this. I took two recorders with me everywhere. One was a soprano (descant) instrument; the other was a digital recorder. Whenever I was able to find the time, I would try out ideas for the concerto and make recordings, building up an archive that I could refer back to. My favourite location for this strange activity was the church of Furnas on the little island of São Miguel, in the Azores. I was in there for several hours and recorded a lot of new material, all of which eventually found its way into the piece. I met Michala for the first time in Hong Kong about a week before the premiere of Concerto Incantato. I told her that when she arrived on the scene as a child wonder recorder player, in the 1970s, I determined absolutely not go head to head with her in the recorder world. She is a few years younger than me and my mind was almost made up already, but she influenced my choice of career markedly, nudging me towards composing, rather than performing. I won’t say I’ve never looked back, but when I hear Michala playing, I think I made the right decision.
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