Howard Blake’s Barbican concerts for children enjoyed a huge success, featuring his music for The Snowman with its much-loved song ‘Walking in the Air’. Howard Blake has also composed widely for ballet, television, the cinema and the theatre. He lives once again in London and most of his music is now published by Faber Music.
The Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by Thea King and first performed by her at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in June 1985, with the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by the composer. A nine-bar recitative leads to the first movement, ‘Invocation’, which develops a mysterious, syncopated theme in G minor. A horn note dies away to a second recitative which leads to the slow movement, ‘Ceremony’, a hushed cantilena using the clarinet’s capacity for sustained lyricism. The third movement uses its capacity for rapid passagework in the form of a restless but exuberant ‘Round Dance’ – an accompanied cadenza returning to the recitative material from the beginning of the work and confirming the strong feeling of the piece as being in one movement.
from notes by Howard Blake © 1986