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Helen Grime

Publisher: Chester Music

A Cold Spring (2009)
Commissioned by Aldeburgh Music with funds from BCMG and Sue Knussen Trust for the BCMG conducted by Oliver Knussen.
Chester Music Ltd
Large Ensemble (7+ players)
Year Composed
10 Minutes
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Programme Note
Helen Grime A Cold Spring (2009)
A Cold Spring falls into three movements although these are played almost without a break. The first movement is fast-moving and features an exuberant duet for two clarinets. The second is a mini concerto for solo horn accompanied by the ensemble. More nocturnal in character, a repetitive rocking rhythm lends it a feel of a lullaby. The third movement opens with an energetic outburst for the whole group. Solos and duets are juxtaposed with the combined ensemble to create an impression of stark contrast.

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  • Ensemble
    Hallé Orchestra and Hallé Soloists
    Lynsey Marsh
    Sir Mark Elder and Jamie Phillips
A Cold Spring evokes primordial creatures bellowing from the murk, with characterful solos for the lower wind instruments.
Richard Morrison, The Times (London),22/09/2017
...the middle movement is described by Grime as a mini concerto for the solo horn, and BCMG horn player Mark Phillips evidently enjoyed it. But the concertante element was there too in an exuberant duet for the clarinets in the first part, and the flying sequence of juxtaposed solos and duets in the last part. It felt like a condensed concerto for orchestra, or rather a sort of ‘Concertino for Chamber Group’
Roy Westbrook, Bachtrack,05/03/2017
…Certainly the revival of Helen Grime’s A Cold Spring (2009) was well deserved. Written for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and inspired by the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, a concertante aspect is often obliquely evident – horn emerging as ‘first among equals’ within the luminous central movement, whereas those on either side are both through-composed designs that draw on larger forces in an intensive yet dextrous interplay. Dextrousness was more than evident in this fine performance under the watchful guidance of Thierry Fischer….
Richard Whitehouse, Classical Source,31/08/2015
… music of deft atmospheric detail.
Richard Fairman, Financial Times,31/08/2015
Grime counts Oliver Knussen among her mentors and shares his eloquence, but her palette is all her own, weaving evocative, restless motives with cool insistence. She writes as though her music needs to be told...
Kate Molleson, The Guardian,22/04/2012
A Cold Spring sounded as quietly ­distinctive as at its first outing at ­Aldeburgh last summer.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,01/01/2010
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