It was a pleasure to be asked to write a piece to celebrate such a fine artist as Michael Collins, and to have him play it on his 60th birthday. The title, Romanza and Scherzo, shows two sides of the player, and the form of the music. The clarinet initiates with a ‘romantic’ phrase, then the piano answers with a snatch of ‘scherzo’: they continue to converse upon these shapes; then the piano has a more continuous lyric passage, the clarinet commenting before setting out in the opposite mood – vivacious and sparky, the scherzo now fully worked up to a first climax. It cools into a broad melody – romantic again, but new, shared by participants previously argumentative or rivalrous – the piece's heart. The scherzo is resumed, going different ways, subsiding via brief recall of the piano's first lyric while the clarinet waits, to have the closing words as at the opening – its germinal cantabile phrase, then the germinal perky phrase, now also cantabile, fused into one for cadencing repose.
Robin Holloway, January 2022
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer.