We take our holidays seriously here at rebeccaclarkecomposer.com, so our popular new feature “A Rebecca Clarke Christmas” gets folded up and put back in the closet at midnight tonight, when the traditional Twelve Days come to an end. It’ll be back in December, with fresh tinsel and some snazzy new ornaments.
In the meantime, here’s a last-minute entry in the revels—an arrangement for flute and piano of Clarke’s great Sonata of 1919, posted to YouTube just yesterday:
Now, we don’t normally hold with arrangements or transcriptions of Clarke’s works that Clarke herself didn’t make or authorize, but this one is pretty darned terrific—exciting and musical in its own right, while honoring the sound-world of the original. It’s also remarkable, and really quite valuable, for bringing out all the French elements in Clarke’s vocabulary, always present but especially eloquent in this piece. People often try to shoehorn Clarke into the “English Musical Renaissance,” where her instrumental works mostly don’t fit. In this arrangement, by contrast, her conscious debt to Debussy is readily apparent, as is her identification with the French-led cosmopolitan modernism of the early twentieth century. The scherzo suddenly seems to prefigure Poulenc, who at the time was a twenty-year-old amateur with only six short pieces to his name.
Fabulous performance, too. Violists, look to your laurels!