composed in 1971
dedication: for Ralph Kirshbaum
published by Novello and Co. Ltd.
first performed 23 October 1971, Wigmore Hall (London), by Ralph Kirshbaum
[BMIC: Jane Salmon (BMIC recital, 22/10/1984)]
[NSA/BMIC: Alexander Baillie (BBC recording, August 1986 - first broadcast performance according to NSA)]
Tesserae C was written for Ralph Kirshbaum, and first performed by him at a Wigmore Hall recital on 23 October 1971. The title refers to the compositional treatment of the background material used in this continuing series of works for various solo intstruments; tesserae are the constituent parts of a mosaic, or the counters used in Greco-Roman games of chance, mere fragments of material lacking any significance in themselves but acquiring it by the use to which they are put.
The common background for the pieces in the series is provided by the proportions and pitch structure of a well-known Anglican hymn tune, adapted by its composer, C.H.H. Parry (1848-1918) from his oratorio Judith; it is often sung to the words 'Dear Lord and Father of mankind'. The relationship of this noble tune to the pieces based upon it is somewhat remote from the idea of 'variations on a theme'. Used much more in the manner of a medieval tenor, as the generator of particular musical events, there is no direct reference to any stylistic difference between Parry's work and my own, and while this relationship refers back to the technique of the missa parodia, with its development of a structure based upon extraneous and heterodox material, there is never any question of a parody in the colloquial sense of the word.