Chant for Violin, Clarinet and Piano by Charlotte Bray.

This work was first performed on 17 November 2017 at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, London, by The Ducasse Trio- Charlotte Maclet (violin), William Slingsby-Duncombe (clarinet) and Fiachra Garvey (piano).

Commissioned by the Ducasse Trio with the support of The Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust and the RVW Trust.

Programme Notes

The title Chant is taken from the poetic novel Les Chants de Maldoror, written by the Uruguayan-born French writer Isidore-Lucien Ducasse (1846-1870). The piece comprises a series of cantos with diverse bizarre scenes, vivid imagery and extreme shifts in tone and style. In the 1930s, the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí was commissioned to illustrate a new edition of Les Chants de Maldoror.

One of Dalí’s illustrations was a direct inspiration for Chant. In the foreground, set on blocks, are two elongated figures: a sinuous female figure reminiscent of a classical goddess stands on the le], her hands clasped together. On the right is a grotesque lumpen torso, perched on the hip of a thick skeletal leg, supported in turn by a thin, bony crutch. In the middle distance, a tiny adult and child stand hand-in-hand, the adult waving towards the foreground figures. In the distance, a village nestling in the foot of rolling hills in mid-summer, the sun beaming through a soft layer of cloud, completes the picture.

Chant’s ensemble is essentially three virtuosic solo voices that complement each other yet retain their independence. I wanted to create a unique experimental palette, focusing on sound quality, through which the musicians discover their own individual voice. Passages of ethereal serenity contrast with a more direct and fiery music. Stratospheric extremes in register are important, especially in two combinations: high violin, low clarinet and piano far above and below; and clarinet and violin as low as possible with piano beneath both. Extremes in dynamics, tempi, timbre, and vibrato are also explored.

- Charlotte Bray

Performance Notes

  • Grace notes are to be performed before the beat.
  • In bars 1-16, the clarinettist should vary between sub-tone and ordinary tone following the dynamic shape, as shown in bars 1-3.

Duration: 5 minutes