…and in praise of “Ruby”!

May 2008 saw my debut with the excellent Malaysian Philharmonic under the baton of my good friend Paul Mann. It was a beautiful opportunity to play a concerto that remains very close to my heart, Joe Duddell’s “Ruby”(premiered in 2003). Only the third(and fourth!) time I’ve played the work, I was struck once again by the unusual subtlety the work contains and I was very inspired by both comments from fellow musicians and the strong audience reaction.

The work traces a three movement form, with the first movement providing a variety of music, alternating between “Flowing”, “Dancing” and then finally “Mechanical” sections. The work’s heart is definitely the central slow movement which builds to a huge and intense climax before floating agilely away. The third movement is more vivacious, and via some real fireworks it proceeds to superimpose many of the themes from the earlier movements in a robust, then quietly accepting conclusion. Another element that I enjoy and  think is extremely effective for the music is that I play the entire concerto from memory, which is not always possible.

I’m really proud of this concerto. I think it is unusual, and perhaps rather oddly under-stated, yet it is unpretentious and serenely honest somehow. Its beauty lies under the surface. I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it quite as often as I would like, so having recently re-visited it I wanted to post this note and promote its virtues as I hear them.

And for anyone willing to book me to perform it, I will be happy to explain the title…!

Best, Colin.

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