Commissioned by West Cork Music. First performance scheduled at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival by Matthew Hunt & the Signum Quartet for 30 June 2022, but due to Covid cancelled.

  • cl/
  • 12 min
    • 1st July 2024, Bantry House, West Cork, United Kingdom
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Programme Note

When I started work on this clarinet quintet, in October 2021, the 3-month-old Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was very fresh in everyone’s mind and there seemed to be a collective feeling of utter helplessness as the country descended into chaos and fear, once more. The idea for this piece came in a conversation with my Afghan friend, Gulwali Passarlay, in which he was expressing the hope that people would continue to think about Afghanistan and to remember, violent political upheaval aside, what an incredibly rich, beautiful and ancient culture this country has.

Part of this wonderful culture are the centuries-old, mythical tales, often with a moral message, that have been passed down through many generations. The Faithful Gazelle tells of a Beggar raised to riches by a magical Gazelle, only to lose everything again when she becomes sick and he ignores her pleas for help.

The clarinet with its enormous scope of timbre and pitch seemed the perfect vehicle for the Gazelle and the ‘cello a gruff, then majestic, then gruff again Beggar!

I am deeply grateful to West Cork Chamber Festival for commissioning this work and to clarinettist Matt Hunt and the Signum Quartet for working so patiently on it, with me. Also to Gulwali Passarlay and specialist Afghan musicologists John Baily, Katherine St John and Dr Lloyd Miller for sharing their immense knowledge and love of Afghan music and culture.

Roxanna Panufnik, 31 January 2022