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sun, drums & soil

for Mark Simpson, Huw Watkins & Zoë Martlew

Sun, drums & soil is a short work for clarinet trio inspired by Stravinsky's miniature 'Pour Pablo Picasso' (1917). 

The piece takes inspiration from the physicality of the quickly-drafted miniature. Stravinsky has turned what appears to be a blank hotel telegram on its side and written the music directly onto it, with the horizontal dotted lines of the page now vertical, cutting through the music. He also spells 'Picasso' vertically. 

Sun, drums & soil uses the idea of changed/warped viewpoints, a concept central to the quickly-emerging Cubism movement in visual art. A short fragment of material is viewed from a great many different angles; the piece is a kaleidoscope constructed from abstracted versions of the same music. 

The piece was premiered by Mark Simpson, Huw Watkins & Zoë Martlew in February 2020.

[ Cl.=BCl., Pno., Vln. ]

sun, drums & soilXan Gill
00:00 / 01:04

Full instrumentation:

Clarinet in Bb (=Bass Clarinet), Piano, Cello

"The piece comprises a parade of acute, vividly drawn musical images initially juxtaposed with each other and poised excellently in terms of pacing and length. The pedigree of Stravinsky is there, as the programme note points too; so too are the examples, both in terms of technique and rhetorical manner, of some of his teachers."

"[...] I was struck by the rare, admirable economy of this piece – unafraid to leave lines exposed, and all the more expressive for it. Further, the last section, turning away from the earlier fragments to a drawn out, questioning end, is properly striking."

Michael Zev Gordon on 'sun, drums & soil' (2020)

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