Quintet for Basset Clarinet (or Clarinet in A) and String Quartet (1990)

for classical (or modern) instruments

African Journal No 11
Dedicated to Lesley Schatzberger and the Fitzwilliam String Quartet
Commissioned by Yorkshire Arts
Bardic Edition Score and Parts BDE 605
Duration: 12'00"

Première

First performance: Thursday 7 March 1991; United Kingdom; Lesley Schatzberger basset clarinet, Fitzwilliam String Quartetperformance details.

Programme note

This quintet takes some of its material from a piece for two classical clarinets, completed in 1989 and premiered by Lesley Schatzberger and Sharon Lyons. Here, using identical instrumentation to Mozart's great Clarinet Quintet, I have continued my preoccupation with the special tonal qualities of the early clarinet, exploiting its greater quartertone possibilities, and the way in which it blends more readily with the softer, finer, reedier sound of the gut-stringed instruments. But as with Mozart's Quintet, the piece also translates very successfully onto modern instruments.

The material is derived from a number of African musical sources, both melodically and rhythmically, and in part harmonically, while texture and sonority come particularly from Mozart. The piece was commissioned by its dedicatees, the Fitzwilliam Quartet and Lesley Schatzberger, with funds provided by Yorkshire Arts. It is cast in a single movement lasting about 12 minutes.

Press

It was an easy-going piece, based largely on African musical sources, its minimalist gestures reminding me strongly of the Stravinsky of around 1914.
David Mather, Yorkshire Evening Press, March 1991