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This inspired coupling from Julian Bliss and the Carducci String Quartet presents David Bruce's riotously enjoyable Gumboots—an evocative affirmation of the power of music against the odds—alongside Brahms's timeless Clarinet Quintet, the undisputed masterpiece of the genre.
My Gumboots is in two parts of roughly equal length, the first is tender and slow moving, at times ‘yearning’; at times seemingly expressing a kind of tranquility and inner peace. The second is a complete contrast, consisting of five, ever-more-lively ‘gumboot dances’, often joyful and always vital.
However, although there are some African music influences in the music, I don’t see the piece as being specifically ‘about’ the gumboot dancers, if anything it could be seen as an abstract celebration of the rejuvinating power of dance, moving as it does from introspection through to celebration. I would like to think however, that the emotional journey of the piece, and specifically the complete contrast between the two halves will force the listener to conjecture some kind of external ‘meaning’ to the music—the tenderness of the first half should ‘haunt’ us as we enjoy the bustle of the second; that bustle itself should force us to question or revaluate the tranquility of the first half. But to impose a meaning beyond that would be stepping on dangerous ground—the fact is you will choose your own meaning, and hear your own story, whether I want you to or not.
David Bruce © 2008
Working with the Carducci Quartet was and always is an absolute pleasure. We get on well which helps when you’re in a recording studio together for a few days! What has always struck me when I play with the Carduccis is their ability to make the quartet at times sound like one instrument, one voice. Their attention to detail is unlike any other.
So here we have it, something old and something new; something familiar and great, and something fresh and innovative. I hope you enjoy discovering Gumboots and end up loving it as much as I do. Thanks David for writing a corker!
Julian Bliss © 2016