Three Roman Miniatures


solo clarinet
Commissioned by Thomas Hyde as a birthday present for Catriona Scott
First Performance
2.8.01, Deal Festival, Deal, UK: Catriona Scott

Score 0-571-56532-8 (fp) on sale

Programme Notes

The first of these three pieces, Animula, was commissioned by Thomas Hyde as a 21st birthday present for Catriona Scott, and was composed while I was staying with friends in Orlando, Florida in December 1999. The title comes from a poem by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, which begins “Animula vagula, blandula”. ‘Animula’ means ‘little soul’, and the piece, does, I hope, express something of what I feel to be the essence, the soul, of the clarinet: its agility, its dynamic range, its fluidity, its melodic expressiveness. The remaining two pieces were written in June 2000. Lacrimae rerum takes its title from a famous line in Virgil’s Aeneid: “sunt lacrimae rereum et mentem mortalia tangunt”, which is more or less untranslatable, but which means literally ‘there are tears of things and mortal affairs touch the mind’. The last piece, Actaeon, evokes the death of Actaeon as described in Book III of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The hunter Actaeon by chance came upon the goddess Diana bathing naked; outraged, she turned him into a stag and he was torn to pieces by his own hounds. My piece is very short, but it contains the sounds of hunting horns, distant and near, the cries of the hounds, the swift motion of Actaeon as he tries to escape, and his final despairing cry. The first complete performance was given by Catriona Scott at the Deal Festival on 2 August 2001.

© David Matthews

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