Out Wild Bells
(2000) A quartet to celebrate the new millenium January 1st 2001
for clarinet, violin, cello and piano
Commissioned by Franklin and Marshall College for the dedication of the Ann and Richard Barshinger '43 Center for Musical Arts in Hensel Hall
World Premiere: 2 December
2000, Barshinger Center at Franklin and Marshall College
Philadelphia Trio with Doris Hall-Gulati (clarinet)
& Co Ltd
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
From In Memoriam, Alfred Lord Tennyson
Bells often signal the passage of time and also, sometimes, ritual. I therefore chose this famous excerpt from Tennyson as a kind of "hidden" text which would celebrate the New Year, where one can let go of the past and welcome the future. Each line, or pair of lines of the poem gives the emotional underpinning to each section of music. There are six sections which are played without a break.
- Declamatory: A vigorous start emphasizing a G natural for the "wild bells" ending in the higher regions for the "frosty light."
- Sombre: Slow tolling bells again on G, for "The year is dying..." The clarinet then softly tolls out the melody of the first line of the medieval chant 'Dies Irae' with a chordal accompaniment. This chant has three lines of text and so this section appears three times. It is interleaved with lyrical and more contrapuntal ideas initially led by the cello, though the piano keeps reminding us of the "wild bells," (and later in a climactic moment, the other instruments do so too). A very slow end, "let him die."
- Lamenting: the clarinet, violin and cello mourn the passing of "the old" but the piano is ready to greet "the new."
- Exhilarated, very fast: a scherzo for "Ring happy bells across the snow,/ The year is going, let him go." At the end of this section brief cadenzas for clarinet, then violin and then cello lead into...
- Mysterious and shifty: a short slow section "Ring out the false."
- Peaceful and confident: "...ring in the true." Memories of the very opening now in a peaceful mood, and the tolling G natural resolves at the very last measure to C.
Ring Out Wild Bells
Mark Troop, piano
Victoria Soames Samek, clarinet
David le Page, violin
Gabriel Byam-Grounds, flute
Matthew Sharp, cello
Clarinet Classics CC0038
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