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Christopher Norton Preludes Collection for Pedal Harp

Christopher Norton Preludes Collection for Pedal Harp

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Christopher Norton Preludes Collection arranged for Harp

1. Sparkling
2. Beech Street
3. New Kid
4. Up and Away
5. Rumba I
6. Rumba II
7. Bossa Nova II
8. Pop Bossa
9. Beguine

Christopher Norton is well-known throughout the world for his compositions for piano, particularly the Microjazz series, published by Boosey & Hawkes, and Connections for Piano, published by 80 Days Publishing. His music is popular with piano students as well as professional performers, because he writes well for the piano, has a subtle blend of jazz, pop and classical influences and has a distinctive style of writing that appeals to a wide range of audiences.

The nine pieces in this book are from my Jazz and Latin Preludes for solo piano, beautifully transcribed and arranged for the pedal harp by Savourna Stevenson. I’m so pleased that these pieces are available to a completely new group of instrumentalists. Enjoy!

Sparkling, with a bright and positive repeated main theme contrasted with a more mellow second idea, is an extrovert swing piece. A restatement of the main theme leads to an improvisation section which becomes brassy and declamatory, then delicate and fleet-fingered.

Beech Street is in a “cool” jazz style, with left hand chords in fourths creating a neutral effect harmonically alongside a modally-inflected right hand melody. The main theme is contrasted with a gently rhythmic Latin figure that comes back in varied forms a number of times.

Back in more traditional jazz territory, almost Charleston-influenced at the outset, New Kid then goes into an improvised section that builds to a dramatic “locked hand” section. Whimsical in style, the piece seems to be ending gently but then goes out with a bang.

Up and away is a piece in a “traditional” jazz style, with a nod to stride piano in the left hand. An easygoing and very syncopated main theme in D major is contrasted with a more legato second idea that moves further away from the main key.

Rumba I starts with a rippling figure that ushers in a plaintive manor key melody, full of yearning minor 9ths. A middle section goes mysteriously away from the main key but order is restored and the rippling figure ushers in an even more impassioned version of the main theme. The rippling figure uses the piece out.

Rumba II is a contemplative, serious piece, with a plangent main theme. The B section has a characteristically throbbing accompaniment. The A section returns stronger before the pieces sighs to a conclusion, with an arpeggiated figure bringing the piece to a peaceful close.

A ruminative main theme has a fantasy-like feel in Bossa Nova II with free invention punctuated by a gentle rhythmic figure. The B section continued with the fantasy-like feel, before a gentle restatement, which again veers off in unexpected but delicious directions.

Pop Bossa is an extrovert and very sunny piece, with a very positive main theme and a more playful B section. The main theme comes in gentler and more sustained before a furioso finish.

Beguine starts with a series of chords that outline the main chord sequence of the piece. Having started this in almost stately style, the piece then quickens in tempo and becomes like a picked Spanish guitar piece. The chorale-like idea comes back before a long build up that is rich and evocative. The opening idea occurs one more time, very softly and mysteriously.

Christopher Norton, Stratford, Canada - March 2018

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