Hayes, Morgan: Opera for Violin and Piano
Opera, by the leading composer Morgan Hayes, takes its title from the 1987 film by the Italian director Dario Argento, famed for his work in the giallo horror genre. Though the story concerns a jinxed production of Verdi’s opera Macbeth, the intense, highly charged music relates less to the physical action than to the prowling camerawork, abrupt jump-cutting and other techniques that contribute to the heightened melodrama uniquely characteristic of Argento’s style.
Lasting about seven minutes, Opera has already been featured by several leading young violinists offering exciting new material in their recitals, and will be no less valued for its technical and interpretative challenges as a conservatoire test-piece at diploma level. A recording by Darragh Morgan and Mary Dullea was released on the prestigious NMC label.
1st perf: Ensemble Lonba, CETC at Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 15 March 2003
1st UK perf: Darragh Morgan (violin), Mary Dullea (piano), Bush Hall, London, 26 June 2003
Opera takes its title from the film of the same name by the Italian director Dario Argento, famed for his work in the giallo genre. Essentially a sophisticated melodrama, Italian style, the story concerns a haunted production of Verdi’s Macbeth. My piece takes its cue less from the narrative than from the stylised violence and abrupt cutting of the cinematic texture, hopefully to capture something of that particular sense of heightened awareness characteristic of Argento’s film-making.
© 2004 Morgan Hayes
‘….and a sinister-comic fascination in Morgan Hayes’ Opera,which is much the best piece on the CD ‘
Ivan Hewitt, BBC Music Magazine, August 2006
‘…..violin and piano dart in and out of each other ‘s patterns like children on speed playing hopscotch. It makes an exhilarating conclusion to the disc’
Peter Quantrill, The Strad, July 2006
Perhaps the other two most impressive pieces [besides the Powell and Harrison] are Joseph Phibbs’s early Fantasia and the Morgan Hayes composition, Opera, from which the anthology takes its title. That title comes in turn from a film by Dario Argento, and much that Hayes has to say about the movie—’sophisticated melodrama…stylised violence…prowling camerawork…heightened awareness’—applies to his music. The piece has its own vein of melody, moving through unisons in which the instruments shadow one another (‘prowling camerawork’) and more fully lit passages.
Paul Griffiths, Words and Music, April 2006
Morgan Hayes draws on Italian film director Dario Argento in a piece whose abrupt yet logical alternation of moods outlines an abstract scenario of vividly imaginative scope.
Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone, September 2006
… it lends its title to the disc and may just be the best piece on it. Taut, nervy and neo-Expressionist, this is a compelling work whose sudden dislocations of texture, shape and direction are centrifugal forces that threaten to tear it apart but that lead instead to a grotesque, boogie-like conclusion whose ghoulishness is wonderfully effective.
Christopher Ballantine, International Record Review, October 2006