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Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
St Catherine's College, Oxford
Mark Simpson, clarinet / Castalian Quartet
Composer's Notes

Clarinet Quintet (2022)
for basset clarinet in A and string quartet

Commissioned by Saint Catherine's College Oxford to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the college. With the generous support of Priscylla Shaw. And also dedicated to the memory of Roger Ainsworth, master of the college from (2002-2019).

  1. Crotchet = 54 Slow. Desolate.

The movement begins at the lowest end of the basset clarinet in unison with the quartet, and gradually opens out into a dark, sombre chorale. The passion intensifies and breaks out into a singing, highly charged music that is immediately cut off.

A tender chord in the cello, viola and 2nd violin pulsates, like a heartbeat, underneath the clarinet and 1st violin as they weave around each other in a love duet. The other instruments then join and the passion intensifies.

A new, quicker, chorale figuration presents itself in the quartet. It then goes through a series of reimaginings; erratic, playful, dancing and expressive.

  1. Crotchet = 54 Slow, introspective.

This movement starts in A minor, and the clarinet joins with microtonal inflections and lip trills along with the strings playing extreme 'sul ponticello' (playing extremely close to the bridge). Outbursts of passionate melodic lines serve to punctuate these dark and sombre moments of intense introspection.

  1. Crotchet = 60, fleeting, spacious.

This movement begins with flickers of light in the strings as they play brief and fleeting harmonics over which the clarinet sings a long expressive melody which leads up to an impassioned breakout with tumultuous, erratic gestures in the clarinet, viola and cello as the violins sing in their highest registers. A slow, introspective section then follows where lines are blurred and melt into one another microtonally. The passage then develops into a passionate climax utilising a very distinctive feature of the basset clarinet. A melodic fragment finishes the work.

Mark Simpson, 2022

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