I completed Tributes in the summer of this year. Lasting some 16 minutes, there are five pieces in the set, each dedicated to a different composer and a different clarinettist (with whom I have had long musical associations). Each of the dedicatee composers wrote wonderfully for the clarinet and as a tribute to them I have tried to invade, indeed imitate, their stylistic worlds in these pieces. They are as follows:
1. to Francis Poulenc (for Emma Johnson) – a rather dreamy toccata, lyrical in feel, but interrupted by typically quirky and disruptive rhythmic episodes.
2. to Gerald Finzi (for John Bradbury) – slow and lyrical with long melodic arches.
3. to Igor Stravinsky (for Linda Merrick) – asymmetric rhythms dominate, with wide leaps in the solo line and bitonal harmony on the piano.
4. to Olivier Messiaen (for Nicholas Cox) – based on the ravishing slow movement for cello in his Quartet for the End of Time, a seamless melody is woven around ever-changing repeated chords on the piano.
5. to Béla Bartók (for Michael Collins) – the most virtuoso of the set; after a slow introduction, a swirling folk-like dance unfolds, mirroring Bartok’s penchant for simple modal shapes and ostinati rhythms.
In particular, I have had a long association with Michael Collins. I wrote my Clarinet Concerto for him in 1994, which was broadcast and recorded by him.
Edward Gregson - 2010