Concords of Sounds
For a number of years, my friend and free bass accordionist, Aidan, and I have met frequently to improvise as a duo. In 2013, Aidan and I decided that we would put together a concert programme that included players from the Leon Quartet and from the chamber-folk band Arlet. Aidan composed Fade to Green (2014), a clarinet quintet including our mutual friend and clarinettist Owen Hewson from Arlet. I decided to combine the Leon Quartet and Arlet to form a nine piece ensemble, for whom I wrote Concords of Sounds (2014).
I was strongly inspired by Aidan’s vibrant composition, The Woodturner (2012), which Arlet had recorded for their Clearing Album and later performed live especially for me to listen to. The extraordinarily powerful sound they made without the aid of any amplification was unforgettable. Perhaps surprisingly, I was also particularly drawn to the fourth movement from Beethoven’s C sharp minor quartet op 131 (1826). Both examples, though extremely contrasting, served as examples of special treatments of the key of A major. In reflection, not only did I adopt this tonality as the basis of my composition, but in each case I included brief quotes from The Woodturner and the C sharp minor quartet.
It was very exciting to set about trying to come up with ideas for a coherent work for the combination of violin, clarinet, guitar, accordion, and euphonium whilst also pairing this with a string quartet. Yet I was determined to embrace the challenge of writing for the two different groups whilst treating them as a whole.
In order to conduct the ensemble I asked my friend and fellow violist, Paul Beckett. We presented this concert in the Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival in 2014. It was an enormous pleasure to work with such friendly and talented performers.