I completed Tributes in the summer of 2010, having started the first of the set some twenty years earlier. In 2008 I revised and lengthened the first piece and decided to add some more. In this final version there are five pieces in all, each dedicated to a different composer, and to a different clarinettist with whom I have had ongoing musical relationships. Each of the dedicatee composers wrote memorably for the instrument and as a tribute to them I have tried to invade their stylistic worlds in these pieces:
1. to Francis Poulenc (for Emma Johnson)
2. to Gerald Finzi (for John Bradbury)
3. to Igor Stravinsky (for Linda Merrick)
4. to Olivier Messiaen (for Nicholas Cox)
5. to Béla Bartók (for Michael Collins)
Ideally, the pieces should be performed as a complete set, but it is also acceptable for individual pieces to be performed separately (eg as an encore piece, or as part of a themed recital).
They are clever, thoughtful and authentic by turn. The tribute to Stravinsky is dark-hued and rhythmically incisive. The most beautiful is that recalling Finzi and it could easily become a Classic FM favourite if they would dare give it a chance. I enjoyed Gregson’s Tribute to Bartók with its energetic Hungarian rhythms and wayward melody.
John France, MusicWeb International
clarinet and piano
First Performance: October 2010
City Halls, Glasgow, UK
Michael Collins (clarinet), Michael McHale (piano)