"...a rustic voice, like a blues singer..."

glider, a 9-minute piece for bass clarinet and seven instruments by Tansy Davies, received its world premiere from Ensemble 10/10 at Liverpool’s Yoko Ono Lennon Centre on April 21st. Clark Rundell conducted with RLPO clarinettist Ausiàs Morant as soloist. The piece was co-commissioned for Ensemble 10/10 by the University of Liverpool, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society partnership, Helen and David Thomas, and Andrew and Jane Cornall. glider has an undulating, oceanic texture, over which the solo part travels.

Davies has previously used the bass clarinet to great effect in 2004’s neon for chamber ensemble. “It can be both vocal and percussive, a bassline, or more like a tenor”, she notes. In glider it has “a rustic voice, like a blues singer”, and brings textural and timbral contrast to the undulating ensemble beneath, bending bluesy quarter tones and ethereal multiphonic trills and harmonics – devised with the help of Morant. As with the French horn, Davies ascribes “an outdoorsy character” to the clarinet, a rustic quality reflected in the way the soloist moves through the terrain created by the ensemble in glider.

glider uses the same instrumentation as Edgard Varèse’s Octandre – a mixed ensemble of single woodwinds and brass plus double bass. “Varese’s music is very important to me”, Davies says. “He has a very precise way of shaping material, in cells and blocks, and using repetition”, something reflected in glider’s musical journey.  

Details of the concert can be found here.