The first concert of BBT’s 20th anniversary celebrations at Wigmore Hall in June 2023 ended with this performance of Stravinsky’s Suite from The Soldier’s Tale for violin, clarinet and piano, performed by Alexi Kenney, Mark Simpson and Filippo Gorini, respectively. Join them – and the solider, the devil and the princess – in this masterly performance.
Opening the first of BBT20’s concerts at Wigmore Hall on Saturday 10 June 2023, Mark Simpson reprieved his 2016 BBT commission, Darkness Moves for solo clarinet, which was originally premièred online on the BBT website. Mark was one of 21 BBT artists appearing at Wigmore Hall that weekend, and Saturday matinee concert included three BBT commissions, two of which were European premières.
Inspired by the visceral poetry of Belgian Henri Michaux, Darkness Moves was commissioned with funds from his Borletti Buitoni Trust fellowship. Mark chose to premiere it online on 25 October 2016 on the BBT website. It was filmed at Quilter Hall, courtesy of Wells Cathedral School, and the music is performed with the kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.
Mark writes about the work:
“The poetry of Henri Michaux is a truly visceral, oftentimes frightening even euphoric experience. Bodies are contorted, dismembered, writhing; and thoughts of dark, nightmarish images invite you to the furthest extremities of the human imagination.
“I wanted to try and capture the essence of this musically with this eight-minute work for solo clarinet. I used the brilliant anthology of his work Darkness Moves, compiled by David Bell, to form a framework to approaching this piece. With these images and a general sense of the atmosphere of what I wanted I wrote Darkness Moves at the clarinet in a kind of half-improvisation.
“The work falls into two large sections. The first is otherworldy, slow, undulating, slimy and dirty. It uses fractured melodies and glissandos that don’t seem to quite ever take shape and are distorted by wild out-bursts leading to wild, nightmarish hyperactive wails and screams.
“The second part is fleeting, hurried and blurred. It ends in a wild, brutal, but ultimately euphoric climax that gradually and quite suddenly decays into the ether, almost as if the whole experience itself, were some kind of dream or hallucination.”
Darkness Moves bears the dedication “To Franco and Ilaria, with thanks to the Borletti-Buitoni Trust.”
The score for Darkness Moves is available for paid download from Boosey & Hawkes here.
BBT Fellowship winner 2014, Mark Simpson reflects on his dual life as composer and performer as we join him at a recording session in September 2015 for his debut NMC disc as a composer. In addition to exploring how the process of recording can enhance music making, Graham Johnston’s film also features artists for which Mark Simpson composed his Windflower (oboist Nicholas Daniel), Barkham Fantasy (pianist Richard Uttley) and Ariel (Mercury Quartet).
Darkness Moves, receiving its world premiere online from 25 October 2016 on www.bbtrust.com, explores the extreme range of Mark Simpson’s own instrument. His first-ever work for solo clarinet goes from the highest pitches to lowest (getting lower than a clarinet’s normal range) and from the quietest to the loudest, in a work inspired by the imagination of Henri Michaux.