Hayes, Morgan: Japanese Sweet
Unison, piano and hand-held percussion
1st perf: New London Children’s Choir, Ronald Corp (cond), LSO St Luke’s, London, 9 November 2006
Japanese Sweet was written for the New London Children’s Choir, conductor Ronald Corp, and first performed at LSO St Luke’s, London on 9 November 2006. The young performers are divided into two groups, one of which sings the short Japanese poem to traditional pitched notes, while the second group plays hand-held triangles and drums, and sings or whispers isolated syllables, or performs them glissandi. The poem, a terse and evocative description of Mount Fuji, is repeated twice, and on each repetition the accompaniment changes to reflect different aspects of the text. Japanese Sweet is a challenging and rewarding study in contemporary vocal techniques, which encourages children to explore sounds and the relation of music and image in fresh and imaginative contexts.
The Sunday afternoon concert in Orford Church was another quintessential Aldeburgh event, a series of small, concentrated utterances, including several very challenging new pieces. Among them was Morgan Hayes’s setting of a Japanese poem, with a clangingly dissonant piano part that cut against the choir’s melody at every point. But here, as everywhere, the choir seized the challenge with relish.
Ivan Hewett, The Daily Telegraph, 20 June 2007