Commissioned by Cheltenham International Festival with funds from South West Arts

  • Clarinet in A/
  • 15 min

Programme Note

Writing music from the perspective of the late twentieth century, I find myself increasingly drawn into exploring fundamental compositional issues of form; how to create coherent large scale structures that generate tension and release and give the music a feeling of continuousness presents the composer today a considerable challenge if he or she is not prepared merely to succumb to writing in a neo-tonal language.

My Clarinet Quintet is primarily concerned with creating a long single movement continuity which explores a constantly changing dramatic relationship between the solo clarinet (in A) and the string quartet. Structurally, the piece is about momentum setting up an accumulation tension (a gradual acceleration of tempi) that is only released in the final moments of the piece. This inevitable process is counterbalanced by moments of total stasis, allowing the music time to breathe before it is drawn once more into the ever-growing currents of the stream.

A couple of years ago I wrote a Double Concerto for Joy Farrall and her oboist husband Nick Daniel (first performed in Cheltenham in 1990). It was with great pleasure that I undertook the composition of the Quintet for the 1993 festival; a piece that I hope reveals Joy’s musicianship and technical accomplishment to the full.

Simon Bainbridge, 1993


Simon Bainbridge: Clarinet Quintet