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Mark-Anthony Turnage was commissioned to compose "Riffs and Refrains" by the Hallé Concerts Society for the Hallé and soloist Michael Collins. The premiere at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester was given under the baton of the orchestra's Music Director Mark Elder. Turnage has known Michael Collins for 30 years and the solo writing sets out to capture his virtuosity and versatility, from a jazzy riff-style in the fast opening movement to reflective lyricism in the arioso-based second. The ability of the clarinet to jump rapidly across registers is a characteristic built into the concerto as a whole.

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