Jim Clarke:

details of selected works


Bestiary

Canciones de luna

Fictions

Four Plum Trees

horizon

Lakeside

Mosaic Fragment

Phrygian Journey

Portal

primary

Self Portrait

Sonata for Clarinet/Viola

Sonatina for Alto Saxophone

Taltos

Three Preludes for Piano

Traveler

Vespertine Paths

Zwack!


Clarke: Bestiary (1995)

The large and aggressive third and fifth movements are set apart by a sweet opening, a percussive scherzo (much knocking and tapping), and a static, haunting fourth movement. The last movement, which comprises half the piece, develops tremendous momentum by the most subtle means, then dies away in a sinuous counterpoint of glissandos.

I. Unicorn, in Shadow

II. Cockatrice

III. Chimaera

IV. Basilisk

V. Dragon

 

[another work]

 

 

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Clarke: Canciones de luna (1995)

Texts: Federico Garcia Lorca

The composer characterizes this song cycle as "my first truly successful vocal work. Written for the beautiful voice of Teri Drinkwater, the songs' sparse textures leave room for the text and melodic shapes to shine through." The Lorca texts all deal with the moon~~and therefore with ideas of change, of birth and death, love, the subconscious~~here framed by the quiet and mysterious combination of flute, bass clarinet and guitar.

1. Nocturno Esqemático / Nocturne in Outline

2. La Luna Asoma / The Moon Appears

3. Media Luna / Half Moon

4. Murió al amanacer / I Die at Dawn

5. Danza da lúa en Santiago / Dance of the Moon in Santiago

6. Madrugada / Alba

 

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Fictions (1996)

This may be the only piece ever written for the seductive combination of guitar and bassoon. A substantial, four-movement work, requiring very nimble fingers on both sides.

1. Fingerprints

2. Leaves

3. A Dried Rose

4. Tracks

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Four Plum Trees (1996)

A major contribution to the harpsichord literature, substantial, demanding, and highly idiomatic. Essentially a "sonata" in four continuous movements (slow, fast, slow, fast), the last of which develops tremendous rhythmic tension. According to the composer, this work was inspired by the harpsichord works of Ligeti and Scarlatti, "especially the latter."

 

[another work]

 

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Clarke: horizon (1997)

One way, perhaps, to look at this extraordinary 13-1/2-minute piano piece is to think of it as a mellow, jazz-flavored rethinking of Stockhausen's Klavierstück IX. The obsessive dwelling on single notes remains, but all the anger has been drained away and replaced by a calm, intense focus (as implied by the title)--and ending with a wry smile. One of the composer's finest works, it was recently performed in 5 European and American cities on a tour by musicians from London's Royal Academy of Music.

Click here to view

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Lakeside (1995)

An introspective etude for the guitar, aptly summed up by its title. Clarke declares this "a reflective but difficult work, with a great deal of expressive room for the performer."

 

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Mosaic Fragment (1997)

Continuing his series of works for woodwind and guitar (see Fictions and Vespertine Paths) Clarke here combines the guitar with the oboe. An intense piece (slow tempo, fast notes) that provides extensive 32nd-note solos for each instrument, bracketed by more lyrical, contrapuntal material at beginning and end.

Click here to view

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Phrygian Journey (1995)

A three movement concerto for orchestra, colorful and lean~~and a real white-water raft ride for both orchestra and audience, thanks to some extraordinarily rapid tempi and Clarke's trademark slippery rhythms. The percussion and clarinet sections are prominently featured in the third movement, and a pair of piccolo trumpets lend an acerbic brilliance to the whole. All the harmonic material is variously derived from the Phrygian cadence that begins the piece.

1. At the Well

2. Shadowed Skyline

3. Gathering

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Portal (1997)

Not so much a fanfare as an abstraction of the idea of a fanfare--anyway, two ceremonial minutes of music for orchestra, commissioned by London's Royal Academy of Music for its 175th anniversary. The title conveys everything you need to know about it: a way through; imposing; briefly experienced.

 

[another work]

 

 

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Clarke: primary (2001)

This is not your average recorder quartet, but a substantial and demanding work in five movements. Densely hocketted throughout, it requires nimble fingers and intense concentration in all parts.

An unusual feature of this work is that multiple recorders are required for all four parts:

I: soprano and alto

II: alto and tenor

III: soprano, alto, and tenor

IV: soprano, alto, and bass 

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Self Portrait (1991)

Actually a romp through a variety of pop and classical stylistic cliches, this early work was inspired by Carl Stallings impeccable cartoon scores.

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1993)

Sonata for Viola and Piano (1993)

A rewarding workout for the soloist, which audiences will understand and appreciate. The clarinet version is the original. The outer movements are rhythmically intense and motivically obsessive, while the work as whole shows a significant jazz influence.

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Sonatina (1994)

Baroque textures, jazz-like rhythms; the end result sounds like neither. Highly idiomatic sax writing from a composer who, for once, actually plays the instrument.

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Taltos (1994)

This profound and dramatic work, of monstrous dimensions and requiring prolonged motoric intensity from both performers, is a major addition to the viola literature. Clarke was only 23 when he wrote this amazing piece, a more than worthy companion to the Brahms sonatas.

"Taltos" means "magical" or "uncanny" in Hungarian, but Clarke's piece owes nothing to Bartók, much less to the recent Anne Rice book of the same title. Rather, it takes its inspiration from a series of swashbuckling fantasy novels, with its three movements named after characters from the series:

1. Verra

2. Devera

3. Bolcseseg

Listen to part of the first movement via MIDI.

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Three Preludes for Piano (1994)

The composer writes:

Written while I was wandering through Italy, these are harmonically stark tributes to Gershwin's set of Preludes, which tend to haunt me. They still haven't been exorcised.

1. Etruscan Horse

2. Two Bottles of Chianti

3. Transportation for Life

Listen to "Transportation for Life" via MIDI.

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Traveler (1995)

a scrapbook of brief movements for flute, clarinet, cello, and percussion, contrasting in texture and activity. Written as a preparation piece for the Canciones de Luna.

1. Alone

2. At Market

3. A Reading

4. Among Strangers

5. Bonfire

6. Stargazing

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Vespertine Paths (1996)

"Vespertine" means "evening" or "twilight," and this extraordinarily beautiful piece for flute and guitar takes an appropriately quiet, meandering tone. Much easier to play than most of Clarke's music~~and highly rewarding as well.

[another work]

 

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Clarke: Zwack! (1996)

A virtuosic solo flute piece that isn't just another tone color study. The name is borrowed from unicum, the Hungarian drink that, says the composer, makes you feel like you've been Zwacked.

[another work]

 

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