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Boosey & Hawkes

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

World Premiere
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Mark Simpson, clarinet / BBC Philharmonic / Ben Gernon
Composer's Notes
  1. Vigoroso (crotchet = 100)
  2. Slow and expressive (crotchet = 60)
  3. Lively (crotchet = 78)
  4. Gentle (crotchet = 60)

From the very first piece I wrote for myself to play, Lov(escape), a 4-minute work for the semi-final of the 2006 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition, I noticed an inextricable link between my playing and the music that I write. I did not have to agonise thinking about the kind of piece I wanted to create for myself. It came very naturally. Lyrical expressivity, risk-taking, virtuosity, dramatic impulse; these are the characteristics that define my playing as well as my composing. I don’t think that my composing could exist the way it does without the innate sense of me being a performer at heart. When I write for myself I try to trust in this connectivity, knowing that whatever happens I will feel comfortable and the music will match my performing sensibility. This is exactly the approach I took when writing this concerto.

The first movement begins with a quick orchestral explosion from which the clarinet emerges with wild material, alternating these outbursts with more lyrical passages.

The second movement is slow and expressive, the quasi improvisatory music twists and winds around a simple, moving bed of harmony in the strings. The section ends with an orchestral chorale.

The third movement is playful and fun. Stabbing gestures in the orchestra are punctuated by runs and jumps in the solo clarinet part.

The final movement is the longest and most expressive. It begins with a simple melody in the clarinet which opens out into something darker and pained. This is followed by a struggle between the clarinet and orchestra, building to an intense climax. As the dust settles the clarinet murmurs through the orchestral texture. We then revisit the chorale material from the end of the second movement which grows to reach a final crescendo.

I chose to write this concerto for clarinet in A, specifically because I recently became the custodian of a wondrous instrument that was previously owned by the great English clarinet player, Gervase de Peyer. It has the most beautifully rich tone and is a dream to play. It was restored to health after his passing by Peter Eaton, whose clarinets I have played since I was 14 years old.

My Clarinet Concerto is dedicated to my Grandad Francis (Frank) Simpson.

Programme note © Mark Simpson 2019

Reproduction Rights
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.

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