In the first half of the twentieth century, British music was divided into two schools of composition. The first was the “Nationalist” school, lead at the Royal College of Music by Stanford and Parry, while the second was the “Wagnerian” school, lead by Fredrick Corder at the Royal Academy of Music. The only common ground these two schools of thought shared was their love of Germanic music. Clarinettist Peter Cigleris joins the Tippett Quartet to present two works from these two schools of composition alongside one of the greatest in the genre that kick-started the English clarinet quintet.
Arthur Benjamin’s Quintet for clarinet and strings was finished in 1913. Not much is currently known about the genesis of the work, though it could be assumed to have been a project set by Stanford who only eighteen years previously had encouraged students to write a quintet for clarinet and strings. Discovered in 2014 in the British Library, Benjamin’s Quintet has received an Australian premiere and this will be the British premiere.
Conway Hall held the Albert Clements Prizes in the first half of the twentieth century. In 1940, Fredrick Durrant won the prize that year for his Clarinet Quintet in E flat. Hailing from Devon, Durrant was a product of the RAM and subsequently a professor of composition there from 1931-70. He was primarily an organist and held various posts in London as well as being Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of London. The Quintet was finally premiered at Conway Hall for the South Place Sunday Concerts in 1946 by the noted clarinettist Pauline Juler. This performance will be the first performance in over seventy years.
Brahms Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op.115 significantly inspired the English clarinet quintet. This work caused a stir in London when it was premiered on the 28th March 1892. Audiences were drawn to the work, not only by the playing of Joachim and Muhlfeld but also by its apparent ‘autumnal’ and late Romantic qualities. Stanford was present and famously challenged his then current students to write something similar. The winner was Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with his Quintet in F sharp minor. The Benjamin and Durrant Quintets follow in the footsteps of the great Quintet by Brahms and are worthy discoveries for the English clarinet quintet canon.
Arthur Benjamin | Quintet in C minor (British Premiere)
Frederick Durrant | Clarinet Quintet in E flat
Brahms | Clarinet Quintet in B minor Op.115
Peter Cigleris (clarinet)
John Mills (violin)
Jeremy Isaac (violin)
Lydia Lowndes-Northcott (viola)
Bozidar Vukotic (cello)
This event is in the Main Hall on the ground floor. For accessibility info: https://conwayhall.org.uk/about/visiting-us/
It is part of Conway Hall Ethical Society’s charitable programme and is tax-exempt.