On 17 April members of Ensemble intercontemporain perform Martin Suckling’s clarinet trio Visiones (after Goya) at the University of York, where Suckling is Professor of Composition. The trio for clarinet, cello, and piano will be performed by Martin Adámek, Renaud Déjardin and Dimitri Vassilakis; it was commissioned for the 2015 Aldeburgh Festival and premiered by Mark Simpson, Jean-Guihen Queyras and Tamara Stefanovich. In 2019 Simpson and Queryas were joined by Pierre-Laurent Aimard at the Elbphilharmonie for the German premiere.

The 13-minute piece is cast in three sections. In the first, the cello and clarinet circle each other in repeated microtonal lyrics, while the piano taps out ecstatic pirouettes in the extreme upper register. In the second, a fragment of the lyric figure becomes something approaching a lullaby. The third is a distorted memory of what has gone before. The piano is now the melodic lead; the cello a crazed, fragmentary virtuoso, unable to find a 'pure' tone; the clarinet restricted to a simple pattern of soft multiphonics. A spinning dance intrudes and then overwhelms the music.

Its title refers to an extraordinary drawing by Goya. “The image unlocked the piece for me”, Suckling noted, “allowed me to wite it: a catalyst”. The image “particularly appealed because it seemed to reveal a great many of the features I wanted to explore in my piece…Three persons, bound together while maintaining utterly distinct attitudes. Dance. The threat of violence. Tenderness. Unease. Weightlessness.” Read an interview with Suckling about the creation of the work here.

A new recording of Visiones will be released by London-based trio Terra Invisus on 3 April; they perform the work at their album launch in the St. Pancras Clock Tower that evening. They also perform Visiones on 5 May at the Omnibus Theatre, Clapham – tickets and details here.

On 24 March Visiones received its French premiere at the 42nd Festival Aspects des Musiques d’Aujourd’hui at the Conservatoire & Orchestre de Caen, alongside several other world and national premieres from the composer, who led several masterclasses at the festival. These included the world premiere of his Chanson à cordes, a 19-minute set of duets for viola and cello, commissioned by the Festival, and the French premiere of Meditation (after Donne), an 11-minute work for chamber orchestra and electronics originally composed for Scottish Chamber Orchestra.