Blaze and Fall

for clarinet, viola and piano
2017
Duration 10’
Instrumentation clarinet, viola, piano
First Performance 27 April 2017, St John’s Smith Square, London; The Jacquin Trio
Commissioned by The Jacquin Trio with funds from The RVW Trust, Ambache Charitable Trust and Fidelio Charitable Trust

Further Performances
19.01.18 Marden House Concerts, UK; Jacquin Trio

Buy/Preview Score & Parts

Commissioned by the Jacquin Trio with funds from The RVW Trust, Ambache Charitable Trust and Fidelio Charitable Trust.
The richness and diversity found in the line of ‘Homage’ from Schumann to Kurtag and, in turn, to Marco Stroppa, renders the commission to succeed with a new work, an inspirational and exciting proposition. Considering also, the rich sonorities of clarinet, viola and piano in combination and the sumptuous palette of colour this presents. Openly embracing the limitless creativeness of Schumann, the enviable precision of Kurtag and the intrepid inventiveness of Stroppa, I have sought to shape their separate offerings into my own voice. Taking themes inherent in the Schumann and Kurtag: night, sun, clouds, cycles, anxiety and love to inspire (as did Schumann) the imaginary world of the piece.

The most obvious influence drawn from Kurtag is structural, following his pattern of five short movements succeeded by a sixth that is far longer than the five put together, as a model for the new work- one which stands apart from others in my oeuvre. For each of the first five movements, I borrowed a ‘cell’ of material from Kurtag as a starting point, a harmony or figuration for instance. The final movement was approached more freely, although as the base I inserted a chord structure consisting of an ascending and then descending bass line, which repeats in transposed variations throughout. This technique was influenced by Kurtag’s use of Isorhythm, which he borrowed from the medieval French composer Machaut. The Fibonacci sequence, which attracted Kurtag, plays a part in organising chords, intervals, rhythms and structures.

In contrast to the German titles used for each of the other movements, Kurtag’s fourth movement takes a Hungarian title, from the work of poet Attila Jozsef. The title Blaze and Fall is also from Jozsef, his 1933 poem ‘Ode’, which reads ‘Stars blaze and fall but you stand still in my eyes’, fits well with the spirit of the work.