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Many painters – most notably Francis Bacon – have produced series of satellite “studies” around one subject. While these works are complete and interesting in their own right, they also function as commentaries and footnotes on each other, and on the cluster of preoccupations they share, as much as on the “main” paintings for which they are nominally studies. Composers do this sort of thing less often, but it was with this idea of a study in mind that I set out to write a miniature “clarinet concerto” for Gretchen Dunsmore and 175 East in 2000.
The piece makes use of the contrasts between the generally light and lithe clarinet writing and the weightier interjections of the ensemble, and the repeated attempts of the soloist to escape the “gravitational pull” of the ensemble could be seen as one narrative strand in the work.
While a study for voicing doubts is a complete composition it was also a testing ground for ideas which have been incorporated into Rank and File Movements, a much larger clarinet concerto for Gretchen, which will be finished in 2015.
to Gretchen Dunsmore and 175 East
20 May 2001: Performed by Gretchen Dunsmore (solo clarinet), 175 East, and conducted by Hamish McKeich, at Hopetoun Alpha, in Auckland.
17 Jun 2001: Performed by Gretchen Dunsmore (solo clarinet), 175 East, and conducted by Hamish McKeich, at the Adam Concert Room, Victoria Univeristy of Wellington, in Wellington.
13 Aug 2009: 175 East concert
15 Aug 2009: 175 East concert
Performed by 175 East: Helen Burr (horn), Gretchen La Roche (A and E flat clarinets), Katherine Hebley (cello), Matthias Erdrich (double bass), Tim Sutton (bass trombone) and Andrew Uren (bass clarinet), conducted by Hamish McKeich