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Hugh Wood

Publisher: Chester Music

Clarinet Trio (1997)
commissioned by the Gemelli Trio
Chester Music Ltd
Works for 2-6 Players
Year Composed
21 Minutes

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Programme Note
Hugh Wood Clarinet Trio (1997)
This piece was written between February and June 1997. There are three movements: the fastest one is in the middle, flanked by two slower ones.

The opening movement is primarily lyrical in character: it concentrated on the members of the trio as solo instrumentalists. Thus there are long solos for each instrument in turn, and the melodies are prolonged and elaborated rather than developed. The clarinet solo is eventually joined in duet by the cello: after a piano solo a similar cello solo grows into a duet with the clarinet. A less lyrical refrain theme has already been heard on the piano: after the clarinet/cello duet, it is extended on the same two instruments. The piano solo follows: then, after the cello/clarinet duet, there is a climactic presentation of this refrain. The whole movement is flanked at beginning and end by two canonic passages: cello leads in the first one (the beginning of the movement), the clarinet leads in the second one (which ends it).

The second movement is a scherzo-march. There are five “characters” of material presented quite quickly at the beginning and they seem at first to be identified with particular instruments, but the story of the movement is that of their presentation in different forms and on other instruments. They are soon joined with a sixth, rather more lyrical theme (dotted rhythms on high cello). This lyrical element comes to the fore in mid-movement, in a passage of developmental character, canonic working between cello, clarinet, the cello leading. The shortened recapitulation continues the process of constant transformation and reassignment of themes.

The finale is a slow movement, intended as a memorial tribute to two friends who died in 1997.

Hugh Wood

  • Ensemble
    Trio Gemelli
    Divine Art:
  • Ensemble
    The London Archduke Trio
    Paul Silverthorne (viola), Roger Heaton (clarinet)
  • 24 MAR 2013
    Cornerstone Arts Theatre, Didcot
    The Berkeley Ensemble
  • 13 FEB 2013
    Victoria Rooms, University of Bristol, Queen's Road, Bristol
  • 25 FEB 1999
    Mancherster Mid-day Concerts
    Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
    Gemelli Trio
  • 11 DEC 1998
    Holywell Music Room, Oxford
    Stephen Plaistow, piano / Julia Rayson, clarinet / Johanna Messner, cello
  • 07 JUL 1997
    Clarinet Trio World Premiere
    Cheltenham Music Festival 1997
    Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham
    Gemelli Trio
    John Bradbury, clarinet

Hugh Wood's striking new Clarinet Trio, premiered by the likeable Gimelli Trio…should prove a useful companion to the Brahms' masterpiece whose forces it emulates. In three brief but pithy movements (Comodo, Fantastico, Adagio) Wood says more, in his post-Schoenbergian idiom, than his most strident and garrulous contemporaries.
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times,01/07/1997
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