Introduction

The music presented here was born during the lockdowns of 2020 / 21 and contains a predictable preoccupation with time and solitude as well as more aspirational fantasies of colour, rhythm and excitement where creative minds have wondered beyond the four walls of confident during the global pandemic.

Composer’s Notes

Songs of Solitude

These are three lyrical piano pieces, or ‘songs without words’ that were written during the first national lockdown of the Covid19 pandemic and allude to different aspects of solitude. The first song (like much of lockdown) is very repetitive in nature and features regular use of cross-rhythms between the hands. It hints at the intimate nature of solitude and begins with the tolling of a bell, suggesting the passing of time.

This contrasts with the next song, which is more anguished in mood, and looks towards the darker side of solitude, the pain of loneliness. The last song, however, moves away from darker feelings towards a sense of stillness and inner-peace. It is constructed as a set of variations, in the manner of a ‘chaconne’, over an ever-repeating slow descending bass line and which finally ends on a long unresolved chord.

Piano Sonata in C

The Piano Sonata in C looks back to traditional classical piano sonatas as well as early twentieth-century jazz styles. The four movements begin with a ‘moto perpetuo’ sonata-form Allegro, featuring a snappy first subject and a contrasting lyrical second theme. The slow second movement is particularly ‘classical’ in using a number of ‘Mozartean’ melodic ideas. It begins with a stately theme of repeated notes which is then presented in different registers with countermelodies. The following movement, a short minuet and trio also recalls the lightness and chromaticism of Mozart. The sonata ends with a lyrical sonata-rondo.

Alice in wonderland

The seven scenes from Alice in Wonderland depict chapters from Lewis Carroll’s famous children’s novel. Each scene incorporates a musical motif devised from the name ‘Alice’, of which only the letters A, C and E are used as music descriptors. The other two letters are derived by different means. L is ‘La’ when using solfege, or ‘Do-re-me’. If Do is the note A, La is the note F. Finally, the letter ‘l’ is derived by starting the musical alphabet a second time from (H = A, I =B, J = C, etc.). The name Alice therefore becomes imbedded within the score by the use of the notes A,F,B,C,E.

This Alice motif is announced at the beginning of the Prelude, and a hint of ‘once upon a time’ with the character feeling drowsy by the river bank. Soon enough, she finds herself falling down the rabbit hole before changing in size by drinking from a bottle and eating a cake.

The following Caucus race sees the characters running around in circles with no clear winner. The music, beginning with the ‘Alice’ theme, similarly goes round in circles, tied to the same key. This is followed by the Father William Song, a folk-song which Alice remembers with help from a caterpillar. Four versus are interspersed with a creeping interlude that uses the Alice motif. The same motif provides a sudden outburst at the opening of the next piece, A Mad Tea-Party. It is a frenetic march, during which the music is occasionally stuck in a loop, and the dormouse falls asleep!

The next piece depicts the royal procession of the king and queen of hearts. The Alice motif begins in grandiose long notes until the queen introduces her signature phrase – ‘Off with his head!’ This is followed by the Sad mock turtle, who is sad, even though he has no sorrow. His song is a parody of an actual children’s song, which is quoted – with more melancholy – throughout the piece.

The final scene depicts The trial (to discover who stole the tarts!) through the use of a fugato on the Alice theme and it’s inversion. This soon dissolves into the chaos of the tea-party music before revisiting the music of the opening prelude as Alice wakes from her strange dream.

Recording session galleries

The gallery section includes videos of Clive performing Songs Of Solitude, Prelude – Down the rabbit hole and Father William song filmed during recording on the 1st of June 2022.

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