Author Topic: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)  (Read 62270 times)

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Offline Madiel

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #440 on: July 18, 2021, 05:48:56 PM »
Oh man, the 5th Sarabande?

I’ll definitely want to hear this.
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Offline calyptorhynchus

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Re: Robert Simpson(1921-1997)
« Reply #441 on: September 20, 2021, 01:47:18 PM »
And now my next (but last) transcription of an unrecorded Simpson work: The trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano of 1967.

This is available at:

Some notes:

This work was written in 1967, the year before the well-known Quintet for Clarinet and Strings. It is completely different from that work, although like the later work it has enormous energy and passages of serious beauty.

When I was transcribing it I listened to it section by section as I completed each section and I interpreted it as a work of extreme musical energy like the Symphony No.5. However on listening to it all the way through I revised my opinion, because I had missed the fun and good humour of the piece. In my interpretation now the work is a sort of written-down improvisation between the piano on the one hand and the clarinet in A and cello on the other. I say this because the clarinet and cello usually play together in unison or close imitation (the cello often playing high in its register) whereas the piano part is more different in its material. I imagined Simpson imagining a clarinettist and a cellist who are very good friends and understand each other very well meeting up for the first time with a pianist who is a little more jazzy and outgoing than they are and the Trio is the result of their first improvisations together.

The piece begins with a slow, mysterious introduction in Eflat minor, where it sounds as though the players are testing their tuning. Suddenly an Allegro non troppo section begins led by the piano. The first stretch of fast music is a little bit tentative and is full of figurations that are played with and then quickly dropped. The music isn’t particularly dissonant, but it is modulating constantly (Simpson, as usual, uses no key signatures, and every bar is full of accidentals, throughout the piece).

Quite soon the music drops away in volume and tempo and a slower section ♩= 72 begins. This is seriously beautiful, but doesn’t last long, almost as though the musicians have suddenly discovered the profundity of their music-making and are a little embarrassed about it. It fades away, there is a pause, and then an Allegro molto e furioso section begins. This is faster than the first fast section and two-in-a-bar, not triple time. Its energy is incredible (in some bars every note has an accent and sfs and sffs abound). But I don’t hear any anger (despite the furioso) or angst, perhaps occasionally the clarinet sounds a little irritated with the piano, and the cello sounds as if it is straining to keep up, high on the fingerboard.

The music again is full of figurations and patterns that are tried out and then dropped, and picked up again at a later stage in different combinations. There are quieter passages, but the music carries on and on (this last section is in fact the same length as the first fast section but has more notes and sounds more substantial) until quite suddenly the players seem to realise that it’s time to stop. The music just seems to end mid-flow, with a quick concluding few bars where the clarinet plays a sustained f# fading to niente, seemingly the note where proceedings had got up to, but the pianist (remembering they began in Eflat minor) realises that the clarinet note can be reinterpreted as a gflat and so plays a quiet chord of Eflat minor to round the session off.

00.00 Largo Molto
00.54 Allegro non troppo
08.55 ♩= 72
14.08 Allegro molto e furioso (tt 22.00)