To Notice Such Things is a studio album by former Deep Purple keyboard player Jon Lord, released in 2010. It is titled after the main work, a six-movement suite for solo flute, piano and string orchestra, composed by Lord in memory of his close friend the late Sir John Mortimer, CBE, QC. The music emanates from that which Lord composed for the stage show, Mortimer’s Miscellany, which he also occasionally accompanied. To Notice Such Things is the last line of the Thomas Hardy poem “Afterwards”, which ended the show.
Jon says of the piece, “I wanted to give the flute the job of speaking for John throughout the Suite; his laughter and his sighs, his wistfulness and occasional mild cantankerousness, his playfulness, and also the anguish and then the acceptance of his final days.” The flute solo in the recording of To Notice Such Things, is performed by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal flautist Cormac Henry, who throughout the work engages in dexterous musical dialogue with Lord’s solo piano.
Jon Lord performed three movements from To Notice Such Things at Mortimer’s memorial service at Southwark Cathedral in November 2009, in front of an audience that included the Duchess of Cornwall, members of the Mortimer family, Lord Mandelson, Lord Kinnock, Jeremy Paxman, Alan Rickman, Peter O’Toole, Sir Tom Stoppard and Jeremy Irons, whose noble reading of “Afterwards” closes the recording of To Notice Such Things.
To Notice Such Things has been performed live a few times, most notably on June 16, 2010 at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Clark Rundell. (by wikipedia)
Jon Lord, ex-Deep Purple, has written a classical tribute to his friend, the late Sir John Mortimer:
Although Deep Purple’s former keyboard ace Jon Lord featured in BBC Four’s recent documentary Heavy Metal Britannia, he didn’t quite fit. While members of Black Sabbath and Saxon discussed steel mills and Satanism, Lord offered scholarly aperçus about vocal technique and instrumental arrangements. A musical score lay open on the grand piano behind him, next to a bust of Beethoven.
That’s because Lord, 68, is now in the middle of a flourishing second career as a classical composer, even if some will always associate him with Deep Purple epics like Smoke on the Water.
His Durham Concerto has been a smash hit in Classic FM’s Hall of Fame, hotly pursued by his piano concerto Boom of the Tingling Strings. His latest composition, To Notice Such Things, is a six-part suite in memory of Sir John Mortimer, the barrister, playwright and raconteur who died in January last year.
“He was a huge pal of mine, and I wanted to extol him and paint a positive picture of him in the music,” Lord explains. “My wife adored him, my daughters adored him, and he certainly had an aura about him. John could be cantankerous, of course, but he had the ability to take people’s legs from under them with wit rather than with a cudgel.”
Lord and Mortimer first met in 1987, when they were both protesting against the demolition of the old Regal cinema in Henley-on-Thames. “John told me at the time that the only real reason for saving it was that it always had an interval in the film, in which they opened the bar for 20 minutes,” Lord recalls. “We both took part in a fund-raising revue at the Kenton Theatre in Henley a few weeks later. We said hello to each other on various occasions after that, including a memorable encounter in the frozen food aisle at Waitrose – built over the demolished remains of the Regal cinema.”
Their friendship blossomed when Mortimer invited Lord to play piano in his Mortimer’s Miscellany performances, theatrical evenings which afforded Mortimer scope to expatiate upon “life, love and the law”. The juxtaposition of the creator of Rumpole of the Bailey with that bloke out of Deep Purple must have been disorientating for audiences, surely?
“People usually didn’t realise,” chortles Lord. “I was just some guy with a ponytail playing piano. But every now and again, someone would come up and say ’You’re… aren’t you? What on earth are you doing here?’ I’d say, ‘Well I love the man, I love the show, and I wasn’t doing anything tonight’.”
Three of the six pieces in To Notice Such Things were originally written for the Miscellany shows, though they’ve been expanded and orchestrated. Lord studied classical music from the age of five and taught himself orchestration from Cecil Forsyth’s book on the topic, and his composing style leans towards a melodic, wistful pastoralism.
“I had four or five minutes of music written, and I added an extra 23 minutes to complete the suite as it now is,” he explains. “If I hadn’t had those three little pieces I would have been far too daunted by the short time frame, because I was asked in February 2009 for a piece to be played at the beginning of July.”
The piece was commissioned by the Shipley Arts Festival, where it premiered last July with Mortimer’s widow Penelope and daughter Rosie in the audience.
The original plan called for a flute concerto, but Lord settled on “a suite of music based on chapters in John’s life as I saw them. The flute would be his voice, because John had quite a light tenor voice, he wasn’t a great booming baritone. Having only just lost him, he felt very close by while I was composing, and the music came very quickly.”
The pieces loosely cover Mortimer’s life, from the aspiring young lawyer depicted in As I Walked Out One Evening, through his professional heyday at the Old Bailey, his home life in the Chilterns, and his decline into old age. The elegiac concluding section, Afterwards, takes its title from Thomas Hardy’s poem (which is also the source of the line “to notice such things”).
Lord found the trickiest segment to write was The Winter of a Dormouse, an evocation of Mortimer’s final illness. “I was able to visit him a few times during that period, and I didn’t want to come over as some sort of musical voyeur. I’m happy with the result, I don’t think it’s too overwrought. I was tremendously moved by being part of his passing.”
Looking forward, Lord has a pile of composing projects on his plate, including a cello concerto for Matthew Barley and a concerto for Hammond organ for the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. He’s even contemplating another concerto for rock group and orchestra, like the one he wrote for Deep Purple in 1969.
“It would be fascinating, but that’s a little way down the list of priorities at the moment,” he admits. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” (by Adam Sweeting, The Telegraph)
This was the last album, that Jon Lord recorded …
Cormac Henry (flute )
Jon Lord (piano)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted b< Clark Rundell
Jeremy Irons (poem on 10.)
01. As I Walked Out One Evening 4.15
02. At Court 5.33
03. Turville Heath 3.01
04. The Stick Dance 4.45
05. The Winter Of A Dormouse 5.33
06. Afterwards 3.56
07. Evening Song 8.16
08. For Example 9.12
09. Air On The Blue String 6.33
10. “Afterwards” (Poem by Thomas Hardy) (3:01)
John Lord (9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012)