Mark Simpson (born 1988) - Ariel

Filmed Live on 2nd November 2013. The Martin Harris Centre, The University of Manchester.

Nicholas Kok - conductor

Dov Goldberg - basset clarinet
Richard Caset - piano
Benedict Holland - violin
Jennifer Langridge - cello

Mark Simpson (born 1988) - Ariel (2009)

This piece, scored for basset clarinet, violin, cello and piano, is a response to the poem of the same name by Sylvia Plath. I sat down with the poem and reacted to it musically, jotting down ideas for instrumental combinations as well as the emotional content as I read the words. The piece begins from nowhere, ('Stasis in darkness...') and gradually wakens up to a furious outburst of rage in all the instruments, calming down only to be interrupted again by another outburst. Descending scales lead to the depths of the instruments’ ranges out of which a slow, winding duet for basset clarinet and cello leads to the centre of the work; a slow, calm three-chord chorale. The work then comes to a stand-still where short outbursts gradually transform into new, faster material and in turn herald the second half of the work. The three-chord chorale motif then goes through a number of permutations until a recap of the opening’s rage is quickly sidelined by a boldly expressive return of the chorale motif. This piece is about extremes; extremes of expression, of instrumental textures and capabilities. It was first performed in London in 2009 by the Mercury Quartet.

©Mark Simpson

About the composer: Mark Simpson
Born in 1988 in Liverpool, in 2006 Mark Simpson was the first ever winner of both the BBC Young Musician of the year and BBC Proms/Guardian Young composer of the year competitions.

As a composer Mark has had works performed by some of the country’s leading orchestras and ensembles. In 2010 Mark won the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Award. He was commissioned by the BBC to write Sparks, the opening work for the 2012 Last Night of the Proms. In 2013 he was awarded a Sky Arts Futures Fund bursary to enable the composition of a new work.

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