ALBUM: Contemporary British Clarinet Music
ARTIST: Roger Heaton (clarinet) and Stephen Pruslin (piano)

Sleeve Notes

Albireo - David Forshaw
This is a single movement work inspired, as with much of the composers music, by an aspect of astronomy. It was completed by August 1996. Perhaps the majority of stars in the heavens are not single like our sun but doubles which revolve around each other on a common gravitational axis. Albireo is a beautiful double star in the constellation of Cygnus, both of which can be separated in small telescopes. The one star is a brilliant orange colour and the other, somewhat smaller, is an amazing royal blue. Translating the idea into a musical one, these two aspects interact throughout the piece, the orange supplying the fireworks and the blue a certain tinge of jazz. There are soloistic passages for both instruments. They really come together in the final fugal section, which finishes (using 5 beats to the bar) on a rapid diminuendo with a chord which jazz cognoscenti know as sharp 9”.

Closed Circuit - Jeremy Pike
In this work the clarinet sound is treated with a digital delay line which is capable of transposing its pitch up or down two octaves in real time. Up to three additional pitches are added, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes using a specified delay. Echo and reverberation effects are increasingly employed as the piece progresses. The clarinet and piano parts are derived from two five note cells which are constantly transposed through the cycle of fifths, each instrument going in opposite directions around what is effectively a closed loop. The title originates from this structural device whilst suggesting images of various applications of the phrase “closed circuit” which are expressed in the music.

Plaint - John Reeman
Both the accusation and lamentation connotations of the title are explored in this single movement work, which was composed in 1994. The piece tails into three sections. The opening is slow and improvisatory in character and is by turns extrovert, aggressive and lamentative. The middle section is fast and more rhythmic. Although the clarinet attempts a lamenting lyrical line, the more aggressive and menacing piano part finally incites the clarinet into the work’s main angry opening, but now the music is quieter and moves through moods of resignation, exhaustion and a final calm.

The Last Memory - Kevin Malone
The Last Memory is concerned with all aspects of memory. The composer’s feelings about forgetfulness, flawed memories, so-called genetic memory, stored experiences, retention and expectation, short and long term memory, and memory loss were all ideas present during the work’s composition. The piece requires microphone amplification of the clarinet and digital delay processing of its sound, and was specially written for Roger Heaton.

Serenade for clarinet and piano - Geoffrey Kimpton
1 Prelude 2 Scherzo 3 Interlude 4 Finale

The Serenade was written for Leonard Foster and Donald Creed, who gave the first performance during the 1965 Cheltenham Festival. Four years later it was played in Manchester by Martin Ronchetti and Martin Jones. Listeners may detect a suggestion of a serenading guitarist in the piano part of the first movement. The musical material of the Scherzo owes a debt to one of the fascinating“Miniature Studies” for piano by Andrzej Panufnik; the same figure appears in both vivacious and tranquil moods.

Moods - David Golightly
Moods for Solo Clarinet was written in 1980 for Roger Heaton. There are five moods portrayed: Isolation; Jovialities; Anger Loneliness; Desolation. The work uses a number of contemporary clarinet techniques; multiphonics, quarter tones, tight lip close and wide vibrato, glissando, high tremolando, breath tones and growls. These techniques are used as an essential part of the piece, woven info the very fabric of the musical argument and emotional structure of each mood. In 1980 the composer was involved in setting to music some of the poetry of Ted Hughes, and became fascinated by the bleak landscape of the “Crow” anthology. This landscape is reflected in the sound world of “Moods” which can be appreciated on two“Hughesian” levels; one is that of a solitary bird lost in a foreign environment. The sense of isolation and tear portrayed as the bird calls becomes increasingly frantic, while it searches for a point of contact with its own kind. The second level is the equivalent of a human schizophrenic, whose feelings and emotions eventually turn inward towards self-destruction.

Sketch For Clarinet And Piano - Stephen Plews
This piece explores modern jazz harmony and aspects of 20th century classical music.

Roger Heaton - Clarinet
Roger Heaton, clarinettist and conductor, has worked with many leading composers, including Feldman, Volans, Ferneyhough and Henze. He appears at major international festivals as a soloist, with the Arditti Quartet, as a member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and Music Projects, and with his own group, the Roger Heaton Group. He has also played with Ensemble Modern and the London Sinfonietta, with whom he played concertos by Boulez and Takemitsu. He records regularly for radio and CD, including ECM, Point and Wergo, and his first solo CD was voted one of the top 50 classical CDs of 1995 by the BBC Music Magazine. He will record two recital discs with pianist Stephen Pruslin, of new British music and works by Birtwistle and Maxwell Davies, in 1996/7. From 1982 to 1994 he was Clarinet Professor at the Darmstadt Summer Courses for New Music, and from 1988 to 1993 was Musical Director of Rambert Dance Company. He is currently Music Adviser for the Siobhan Davies Dance Company and works closely with the Richard Alston Dance Company.
Stephen Pruslin - Piano

Stephen Pruslin has, as a pianist, been called “one of the world’s leading interpreters of contemporary music”. He has played all over the world, including every major international festival, has made dozens of commercial recordings, has had sustained working relationships with such leading composers as Birtwistle, Carter, Henze and Maxwell Davies, and has performed and recorded with Berio, Boulez and Lutoslawski. He speaks frequently about music and the arts on BBC Radios 3 and 4, and on British and European television, both extemporaneously and to his own scripts. In recent seasons, his pre-concert talks at the Royal Festival Hall have won a regular and enthusiastic following. He is the author of two operas; the recent “Craig’s Progress” (music by Martin Butler), premiered in the Meltdown Festival at London’s South Bank Centre, and “Punch and Judy(music by Sir Harrison Birtwistle), of which W.H. Auden described Pruslin’s text as one of the the most outstanding and original opera libretti of the century. The work is now regarded as a contemporary classic, is still receiving new productions, was recently the focus of a project at the Motley Theatre Design Course at Drury Lane, and has been selected by BBC Radio 3 and The Guardian as one of the “Vital Fifty” operas on CD. Stephen was Chief Repetiteur for the new production of Schoenberg’s “Von Heute auf Morgen’ at De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, already recorded under Oliver Knussen, for future release on Deutsche Grammophon. He is now reviewing CDs and videos for the new Gramophone Quarterly International Opera Collector, and is working on a bookabout Maxwell Davies and Birtwistle.

Kevin Malone
Photo: Kevin Malone

Kevin studied composition with Morton Feldman, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom and Stanley Glasser, and was awarded BMus and MMus degrees in America and a PhD from the University of London. As a Fulbright Fellow, he studied composition in Paris. Based in Crewe, he is Senior Lecturer in Music at Manchester Metropolitan University. His output ranges from music for harpsichord and live electronics to symphony orchestra and multimedia art, which has been presented at numerous international festivals.

Steve Plews
 Photo: Steve Plews

Steve Plews, who commands a growing international reputation, won the Peter Whittingham Award in 1994 and two large scale grants from the Arts Council in 1994 and 1995. Steve regularly performs with his ensemble Ascension, and writes in a variety of modern and contemporary styles, with jazz and contemporary classical music being his forte. He also composes for specific projects and teaches all styles of composition.

John Reeman
Photo: John Reeman
John Reeman was born in Lancashire in 1946. After a variety of occupations he went to Hull University to study composition with Tony Hedges. He was awarded an Honours Degree, the Annual Music Prize and later a Masters Degree in Composition. He now lives in St Annes and has written a wide variety of music for both amateur and professional musicians, and a number of his pieces have been published.
David Forshaw
Photo: David Forshaw

David Forshaw (b 1938) studied with Alan Hoddinott at Cardiff University and recently with Richard Steinitz at Huddersfield University. Lancashire born and living in St. Helens he has written works for piano, cello, bassoon, double bass, percussion, brass and concert bands, pieces for 8 clarinets, 5 double basses, 6+ flutes, various chamber ensembles, songs, choral works (some including children’s voices), four part anthems, a work for male voice choir, and works for full and string orchestras.

Geoffrey Kimpton
Photo: Geoffrey Kimpton

Geoffrey Kimpton studied composition with Alfred Nieman at the Guildhall. After further study in Vienna, he joined the CBSO as a viola player. The music of its conductor Andrzej Panutnik was, and remains, a strong influence. In 1960 Geoffrey settled in Manchester and has had a varied career as an orchestral player, lecturer, violin teacher and composer. Recent performances include “The Bond Of Peace” played by the Goldberg Ensemble, a string quartet and several prize-winning songs.

Jeremy Pike
Photo: Jeremy Pike
Jeremy Pike was born in 1955. He studied music at King’s College, Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music before becoming a pupil of Henry Gorecki on a Polish Government Composition Scholarship. He has directed the electro-acoustic studios of Warwick University and Royal Academy of Music, and is currently Head of Composition and Contemporary Music at Cheetham’s School of Music in Manchester. His music, which includes orchestral, choral and chamber works, has been widely performed.
David Golightly (See also David's other compositions and recordings on this site)
Photo: David Golightly
David Golightly studied composition with Richard Steinitz at Huddersfield University. Born in Co Durham and now based in Cheshire, a number of his compositions have been commissioned by eminent performers, including “Moods” for Roger Heaton, ‘Rites of Passage” and “The St Petersburg Mass” for The Roussland Soglasie Male Voice Choir of St Petersburg. In addition David has composed prolifically for the theatre and film documentaries. His most notable credits include “Blue Remembered Hills”, “On the Razzle”, "The Glass Menagerie”, “Cider with Rosie” and “Under Milkwood” (Theatre), “Out of the Depth” and “I’m no Angel” (Film). David has had performances of his music as far afield as America, Germany, Poland and Russia. David is chairman of The North-West Composers' Association.


Recorded at ASC Recording, January 1997
Engineered by Richard Scott

Post-production by Jeremy Pike
Produced by Steve Plews and David Golightly

Design by Tim Walton

This page was last updated on 7 July, 2005