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Arioso for Clarinet and Piano

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Clarinet in A, piano

Duration (approx)   7 minutes
Composed   1991, revised 2001
Publisher   Music Haven
First performance   16th May 2001
Venue   Purcell Room, London
Soloists / Players   Katherine Spencer (clarinet), Jonathan Ayerst (piano)
Notes   See also Arioso for Viola and Piano.

Single movement

Programme Notes

In the early 1990s I was getting to know the poems of Philip Larkin and was struck by one of his earliest poems 'Going'. It is, as with many of Larkin's poems, concerned with his acute awareness of approaching death and whilst I am not especially given to morbid contemplation of that sort, I was captivated by his oblique suggestion of the momentous. In the first two stanzas there is a feeling of warmth contained within the bleakness:

There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

I remember feeling an instinctive conversion into sound - in particular the opening chord - which generated much of the character of the piece. Most of the piece is slow and contemplative in nature with a more animated middle section.

Arioso was originally written for the viola but as both the viola and clarinet have a similar compass and are instruments that one might associate with quiet expressiveness I felt it would be suitable for transcription. Of course this entails some rethinking of the material but there was really very little chordal writing in the original part, the emphasis being on melodic phrases and expressive tone colour.

It is dedicated to Sarah Jane Bradley, a great friend and a wonderful musician, who gave the premiere of the viola version in 1991.

Score Samples

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