Songs for Claire is intended to portray a life journey, with all the joys and trials that may be encountered. From a personal point of view, it was written in memory of my childhood best friend, Claire, who sadly died of cancer aged 10. I think most people will be able to relate to the moods of the three movements, and draw from their own
life experiences in order to create the expression desired.
Living Life begins with a pure and innocent piano introduction, where life twinkles into being. The performers should aim for a sweetness and pure innocence. At this stage there have been no challenges and trials. Try to see this through the eyes of a child. At bar 71 we should be able to soar with the sheer exuberance and joy of life. The
mood begins to take a downward turn via the piano there after bar 91. This is where situations begin to take a turn for the worse, with much more agitation and a darker emotion takes over.
Troubled Times now takes us onto a road that we would prefer not to be on, everything should be quite agitated and restless. I had a strong feeling in this movement that it should show a battle of wills within; trying to stay positive (the sweeter timbral trills) and trying to fight the ever nagging negative thoughts. Performers should feel able to release fully where the score is marked 'desperately' because these are the cries of one who is struggling to keep fighting. At letter E, the pianist should play almost with anger, with strong stress to accented notes. At letter H the timbral trills stop abruptly, and this indicates that the struggle is over, if you imagine a heart monitoring machine that suddenly gives out is length monotone indicating the end of life. The rest of the movement relaxes
into the peace of the final movement.
Flying Free is similar in feel to Living Life. You will see that the initial theme is reversed. In the first movement, we see the theme very introverted, probably as we often look inwards in life. In 'Flying Free' the theme has been opened up to see the bigger picture as it were. Again, we should feel a real sense of freedom and purity, but this time accompanied by a strong sense of peace. Phrases should be started with mainly just air from the saxophonist, and the pianist is aiming for a gentle continuously rocking movement. There are still moments where past emotions are briefly revisited, but by the end of the movement we are able to let go fully and literally float away...