When we started this whole Rebecca Clarke thing, we promised that we would not clog your in-box unduly, but somehow a silence lasting eighteen months seems excessive. We can only plead pandemic, and more tsouris than—well, as we say here in Brooklyn, you shouldn’t ask.
Still, as we set out the customary Christmas-Eve display of the year’s Clarke publications and recordings across the music-rack of the piano where she composed Dumka (and you’ll forgive the stuffed animals peeking out everywhere, as the latest generation was turning out in force the next morning, Dumka or no Dumka), we were struck with what an extraordinarily productive year 2022 had turned out to be, what with all of Clarke’s piano-music, and half of her vocal duets, being published and recorded in tandem—and if you don’t think vocal duets are a tough market to crack, try it, and then come back and tell us about it.
There were too many things to put face-out all at once. In addition to the larger items, which you can find out about on our Shop page, there were a compelling account of Clarke’s Viola Sonata set amongst some of the other great viola-works of 1919, a mesmerizing take on the related Untitled, outstanding performances of Tiger, Tiger and The Seal Man, and a terrific matchup of Cortège with Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor (trust us, this makes perfect sense, once you’ve heard it).
And if you look at the picture closely enough, you can just make a out a harbinger of what promises to be a blowout 2023: the first proofs of Clarke’s Violin Sonata in D, which Sleepy Puppy Press is bringing out very early in the New Year, along with the substantial opening movement that Clarke wrote towards an intended Violin Sonata in G (see our Shop page to pre-order either or both). These poor pieces—her first full-scale concert pieces, composed at the Royal College of Music in London, around 1909—were first scheduled for publication more than twenty years ago, but have been sidelined again and again, first by a corporate restructuring leading to a comprehensive shift in strategy, then by three serious illnesses, a lengthy hospitalization, a massive blizzard, one actual death, a corporate acquisition of uncertain scope and import, and finally by a contractual ambiguity that could only be resolved by the passage of time—and that’s just the publishers!
Suffice it say that Sleepy Puppy, which did such stellar work anthologizing the borderline-sublime slow-movement of the Sonata in D, is doing a bang-up job with the whole lot. These are wonderful pieces. Their publication will not only add two important works to the teaching- and concert-repertoires, but will mark the availability of all of Clarke’s major concert-works in print.
And a Happy New Year to you, too!