New, forthcoming, noteworthy, or just plain fun stuff, with links to the nice folks who create it.
James Newby and Joseph Middleton’s magnificent new recital disc includes the latest entry in the Seal Man Hit Parade (see the next two items below, for example), and it’s a doozy—an important moment in what looks like a New Golden Age for Clarke’s songs.
Now, The Seal Man is a song the way Tristan is a musical, and what Newby and Middleton get out of the crescendo beginning at “Then they went down into the sea together” is almost overwhelming, well worth the price of admission all by itself. Like Newby’s earlier broadcast performance with Simon Lepper, it has all the urgency of breaking news. Set within a fascinating program of English song from Elgar and Somervell to Jonathan Dove and Errolynn Wallen, this one’s a keeper.
A “MUST-HAVE RECORDING” WITH A THRILLING NEW SEAL MAN
Editor’s Choice: “The disturbing darkness of Rebecca Clarke’s scena-like ‘The Seal Man’ is communicated vividly….A must-have recording, not only for those who are devoted fans of Williams’s art but also those who are entranced by this wonderful repertoire.”—Jeremy Dibble, Gramophone (January 2023)
“★★★★ The orchestration of all these songs is as careful and perceptive as one would expect from a musician who interprets them with such finesse…. No other singer today inhabits this repertoire so completely and movingly.”—Andrew Clements, The Guardian (December 1, 2022)
This “new English songbook” by baritone Roderick Williams offers a version of Clarke’s The Seal Man that has to be heard to be believed, along with Vaughan Williams’s House of Life and Butterworth’s Housman cycle, and selections by Ireland, Boyle, Browne, Gipps, Dring, Burton, and Farrar. Don’t even stop to think: here, here, here, or wherever else you like to buy.
ONE OF THE TOP 10 RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR! (Opera News and Presto Music Awards 2022)
“The Best of 2022….Essential.”—Opera News (January 2023). “Star power, especially in the brilliant selections by Rebecca Clarke….Critic’s Choice. ★”—Maria Mazzaro, Opera News (October 2022)
“Schultz emerges as a master storyteller….In addition to her instinctual projection of words and eloquent phrase-shaping, her vocal colour morphs seamlessly from one register to another, each more alluring than the last.”—David Patrick Stearns, Gramophone (July 2022)
One of the best recital-discs in living memory features landmark performances of four of Clarke’s most important songs—Down by the Salley Gardens; Tiger, Tiger; Cradle Song; and The Seal Man—by two of the finest performers in the world today. Buy now. If you need persuading, check out this interesting interview with Schultz.
NOW AVAILABLE WORLDWIDE
Nominated for a 2023 Fryderyk Award (Poland’s highest honor, equivalent to the Grammies or the BRITs), this is far and away the finest recording yet issued of Clarke’s Sonata in her own alternate version for cello, featuring playing of breathtaking brilliance and sensitivity by Wojciech Fudala and Michał Rot, a duo based at the Academy of Music in Łódź. The fascinating program includes transcriptions of pieces by Szymanowski (Roxana’s Song and the Violin Sonata, Op. 9) and Bloch (Nigun), along with Fudala’s mesmerizing arrangement of Clarke’s The Cloths of Heaven.
A WORLD PREMIERE—AND A NEW STANDARD
“All of the works on this recording are beautifully crafted, and played in exemplary fashion….A welcome addition to the Clarke discography. I recommend it with the utmost enthusiasm.—Ken Meltzer, Fanfare 46/2 (November/December 2022)
“Béranger’s big-boned tone and pleasantly bottom-heavy instrument …are a delight in the Viola Sonata….The gently hypnotic Morpheus and gravely beautiful Passacaglia are equally attractive, and the Dvořák-ish Dumka is great fun.”—Katherine Cooper, Presto Editor’s Choices (August 2022)
“It’s hard to ignore the works of Rebecca Clarke, but if you have never had the pleasure of coming across her, one thing is for sure: you won’t forget her any time soon….A completely unique voice, and resolutely modern.”—Le Bal Blomet
Now the benchmark collection of Clarke’s music featuring viola, this magnificent disc also includes Chinese Puzzle, Two Pieces for Viola and Cello, and the world-première recording of the recently discovered third piece for that combination, Irish Melody (see the next item, below). Available here and here, where there’s a truly cool split-screen video of the scherzo.
A NEW PARADIGM
“Broad has a rare gift for eloquent evocation of the music itself and answers the key question (was the work any good?) resoundingly in the affirmative, making a persuasive case for a revision and expansion of the musical canon.”—Annalena McAfee, Financial Times (February 21, 2023)
Leah Broad‘s group biography of Clarke, Ethel Smyth, Dorothy Howell, and Doreen Carwithen draws on a vast range of documentary sources in order to set Clarke within the the professional world where she lived, breathed, and worked—a real-world approach that promises to revolutionize the field.
But don’t believe us—check the interviews here (particularly insightful with regard to Clarke, beginning at 14:35), here, and here, an author-curated playlist, and rave reviews from The Guardian, The Spectator, VAN Magazine and The New Statesman.
Available in the UK in all formats, and in the US from iBooks and Kindle. The hardbound releases in the US on September 5, 2023; pre-order here.
JUST OUT—TWO LANDMARK PUBLICATIONS!
In a watershed moment first anticipated more than twenty years ago, Clarke’s two big pieces for violin and piano, carefully edited from the composer’s manuscripts and autograph performance-materials, are now available from Sleepy Puppy Press. This means that all of Clarke’s concert works are now published and in general circulation throughout the world—a landmark for Clarke, and for the chamber-music repertoire at large.
Available in print and digital editions: the three-movement Sonata in D here and here; and the imposing single-movement towards a Sonata in G here and here.
If you’re in or near London this coming November 5, you can check out the Sonata in G live, at the Barbican.
JUST OUT IN PRINT AND ON DISC
Famous in her time for the power and brilliance of her piano-parts, Clarke wrote very little for the instrument alone, but what she did write was choice, as amply demonstrated in this pair of new releases by Simon Callaghan, for whom no praise is adequate.
Callaghan’s edition of the works themselves (shown at left, available here, here, and from fine retailers worldwide) is carefully drawn from the original manuscript sources, reproducing Clarke’s fascinating fingerings of her transcription from Bach’s Magnificat in D.
And in a ravishing CD (Lyrita SRCD408, available here or here), Callaghan pairs all three pieces with the complete piano works of William Busch, for whom Clarke wrote Cortège. “Callaghan…serves these pieces as they so richly deserve, with a fineness of touch that conveys all the sensitivity in which they abound. Paul Conway’s erudite program-notes give real pleasure.”—Jean Lacroix, Crescendo Magazine (10 December 2022)
THREE OF CLARKE’S FINEST VOCAL DUETS— PUBLISHED AT LAST
“This lovely anthology of duets by women composers from the Baroque era to the mid-twentieth century is a gold mine, especially for the voice teacher or music educator, and for those creating vocal ensemble or chamber music programs….Of special interest are three hitherto unpublished works by Rebecca Clarke [Nacht für Nacht, Sleep, and Hymn to Pan]….Includes phonetic and poetic translations,…pictures of each composer, their biographic information,…[and] resources for the performer desiring to delve deeper.”—Kathleen Roland-Silverstein, Journal of Singing (November/December 2022)
Available here, with a complete table of contents. The parallel recording is available here and here.
“Open harmonies laden with parallel fourths and thick luscious doublestops in both parts…. Arrives at a time in which performers can console audiences remotely, evoke nostalgia, and mitigate a yearning to connect with loved ones in person again…. A cathartic outlet sorely needed in these challenging times.”—Gregory K. Williams, Journal of the American Viola Society (Fall 2020)
The first publication of Clarke’s long-lost, recently-discovered third duet for viola (or violin) and cello—a heart-melting setting of the tune best known as “Londonderry Air.” For a preview of the piece’s fascinating history and back-story click here. Order here.
“All violists owe a debt of gratitude to David Bynog for this masterful book, which will serve as an inexhaustible resource for decades to come.”—Andrew H. Weaver, Journal of the American Viola Society (Spring 2021)
“Bynog…is uniquely qualified to introduce his instrument’s repertoire to all interested readers regardless of background….Footnotes and an up-to-date bibliography complete this indispensable publication.”—Carlos María Solare, The Strad (August 24, 2021)
“He knows the music inside-out and is the ideal guide….Will be invaluable to program-note writers and casual music lovers.”—Laurence Vittes, Strings Magazine (May 17, 2021)
Bynog’s crackerjack chapter on Clarke’s Sonata, based on a meticulous survey of all the known primary sources, includes the first publication of Pomposo, an Albumblatt Clarke composed in her ninetieth year. Available in cloth, paper, Apple Books, or Kindle.
ASSOCIATED BOARD TITLES
The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music features five works by Clarke in its 2020-2023 grade exams. For viola: I’ll Bid My Heart Be Still (grade 5); Lullaby (grade 6); and Morpheus (grade 8). For cello: I’ll Bid My Heart Be Still (grade 7); and Passacaglia on an Old English Tune (grade 8).
Performance-materials and complete information about syllabuses are available here.
AND FOR THE YOUNGER SET…
…there’s a concise and totally on-point account of Clarke’s life and career in the latest installment of Lucy Warner’s nifty Superheroes of Music series, for readers aged 4–10. That’s Clarke in the crown (“Zap!”), teaming up with Lully (“Tap!”) and Bob Marley (“Roar!”). Inside, there’s Hildegard, Marianna Martines, Liszt, Bizet, Puccini, Bartók, Prokofiev, Django Reinhardt, and Ravi Shankar, along with a glossary, a timeline, Q&A, and other cool stuff.
Available here (with sample pages), here, or from your regular bookseller.
REBECCA CLARKE GEAR
Arty Margit’s take on the famous portrait by Louis Langfier (c. 1923), reproduced in a host of useful and amusing merchandise. For prints of the graphic, click here. For framed prints, clothing, accessories, totes and carry-alls, cases and skins for your devices, stationery, housewares, mugs, regalia, and face-masks, click here.
Graphic: Copyright © Margit van der Zwan. Reproduced by permission.
POÈTE, PRENDS TA TASSE!
Try your favorite warm beverage in this snazzy mug from Alto Clef Gifts, emblazoned with the opening salvo of Clarke’s Viola Sonata. Comes in two sizes: 11 ounces and 15 ounces.
Clarke was an avid tea-drinker. Her brew of choice was Jacksons of Piccadilly in the big blue tin, an ambrosial concoction of which only a dim simulacrum survives today. We recommend these instead.