Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Trio op. 38
Adagio – Allegro con brio

Beethoven’s septet for wind and strings, op. 20, was written in 1799, and was a run-away success. This popularity led to several arrangements appearing from the hands of others. To keep up with the game, Beethoven sanctioned a transcription for string quintet, and in 1803 himself published this version for clarinet or violin, bassoon or cello, and piano. Tonight we hear the first movement, where a slow introduction leads to the sonata form allegro. The brilliant first subject, which forms the basis for much of the development, is contrasted with a gentler second subject, and there is an extended coda.

First ACMC Performance

Last ACMC Performance of op. 20: January 2009, the London Concertante

Britten (1913 – 1976)
Three Character Pieces for Piano

The Three Character Pieces were written in 1930, when Britten was only 17, but were not published until 1989, when Sarah Beth Brigs gave their world première performance.

First ACMC Performance

William Hurlstone (1876 – 1906)
Trio in G minor
Allegro moderato
Scherzo: Allegretto con moto
Andante maestoso – Allegro vivace

Although not from a musical background, the Englishman William Hurlstone was considered by his Professors at the RoyalAcademy, including Charles Villiers Stanford, as one of their most brilliant students, both as pianist and composer. However, his poor health – he was a bronchial asthmatic – precluded a solo piano career, and caused his early death. Hurlstone was drawn very much to chamber music, and his best known works are for this genre. Indeed his Fantasy Quartet of 1905 won the first of the Cobbett Chamber Music Prizes (2nd prize Haydn Wood; 3rd Prize Frank Bridge). The Trio for clarinet, bassoon and piano was probably written in 1896, but there are no records of any performance in his lifetime. However, it was played frequently in the 1930s, although almost 100 years and much musical detective work were required to reconstruct Hurlstone’s intentions, with the discovery of the scherzo movement, and a reordering of the other movements. The writing for the two winds is beautifully done, making the most of each instrument’s warm timbres, and the piano part reflects Hurlstone’s mastery of his own instrument. There seem to be echoes of Brahms, and perhaps Elgar, in this delightful, lyrical piece.

First ACMC Performance


Tea, coffee or juice, and biscuits are available at 50p

Bernstein (1918 – 1990)
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
Grazioso – un poco piu messo
Andantino – Vivace e leggiero

The clarinet sonata dates from the beginning of Bernstein’s multi-talented career – he was conductor, composer of both serious music and musicals, pianist and lecturer. After studying at Harvard and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the young Bernstein spent two summers at Tanglewood in Massachusetts, the festival set up by Serge Koussevitzky, returning there in 1942 as Koussevitzky’s assistant conductor. It was there that he met and became a close friend of the clarinettist David Oppenheim, to whom the sonata is dedicated. The first movement is reminiscent of Hindemith, who was also at Tanglewood, lyrical rather than virtuosic. The second movement alternates between the reflective andantino, and the spiky 5/8 vivace, which seems not far away from the music of West Side Story.

First ACMC Performance

David Bedford (1937 – 2011)
Dreams of Stac Pollaidh

David Bedford began composing at the age of seven and went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Lennox Berkeley. He wrote many orchestral works, including four BBC Proms commissions, and he also orchestrated the scores for several films. Dreams of Stac Pollaidh was written for Laurence Perkins in 1999, and it originally formed part of a music-and-words concert presentation As far as the eye can see…. It was inspired by the composer’s holiday visit to the north-west of Scotland some years ago when he climbed this famous mountain. Sadly, David Bedford died in October this year.

First ACMC Performance

Three Hebridean Melodies Traditional arr. Perkins

Glinka (1804 – 1857)
Trio Pathétique
Allegro moderato
Scherzo: vivacissimo
Allegro con spirito

Glinka is recognised as the father of Russian music, and best known for his two operas, the Life of the Tsar, and Ruslan and Ludmilla. A cosseted childhood was followed by four years in Milan, where he met and was influenced by Donizetti and Bellini, and where this trio was composed in 1832. Although an accomplished pianist, Glinka had at that time received little formal musical training, and had yet to develop a style to reflect his native music. Although written for piano with clarinet and bassoon, it is often performed by piano with violin and cello. Why Pathétique? Glinka wrote on the score “I know love only by the sorrows which it causes”, but at the time he was also racked by physical illness, which led to a deep despair. The first three movements are played without a break, and have inter-related themes. The yearning allegro leads to a more playful scherzo. The largo is a heartfelt lament, first from the clarinet, then the bassoon, and then both together, after which the brief finale rushes past.

Last ACMC Performance: January 1979, the Scottish Virtuoso Wind Quintet

December 2011 Programme notes