Gwyneth Walker

A Joy Not Forgotten

for Clarinet and Piano (2021)

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A Joy Not Forgotten is a suite of duets for clarinet and piano. The title specifically refers to the joy of playing music together, in one room, after the pandemic time of isolation. What a joy to return to the simple pleasure of musicians interacting, making music, even if only for one another!

The language of these duets is very tonal and straightforward. This style reflects the freshness and "newness" of restarting the activity of playing duets. The musicians may be rehearsing alone in a church or concert hall where groups had gathered in the past. Now, slowly, the community shall return.

"Memory" features an angular piano accompaniment, marked reminiscent of guitar-picking style. Above these patterns floats the clarinet. Rhythmic syncopations are light. Dissonances are minimal. There is a great joy in playing once again!

"Peace Be With You" is a musical blessing. In the opening section of the piano accompaniment, the right hand presents gentle downward triplets in the high range, as a gesture of blessing, or perhaps grace falling from heaven. These patterns recur throughout this movement, and engender extended passages in the middle section. The clarinet theme, heard beneath the blessings, has a rhythmic pattern as if to say "Peace be with you, my Friend." The clarinet is silent at the end, bowed in prayer.

As with "Memory," "Light Journey" has a flowing, repetitive piano accompaniment which supports the clarinet theme. But in this movement, the clarinet becomes quite active, with syncopated rhythms and scalar passages. The dynamics increase into a triumphant ending. And in fact, this suite originally ended with this "Journey" as a statement of arrival.

A few weeks later, the suite was revisited, with the quiet "Listening" added on. This music, particularly the clarinet part, lies in the low range. It is a rich and dark tango. Special pleasure is taken in a chord marked a dissonance to enjoy, which melds the tonic and dominant harmonies with a semitone bite at the top. This E/F friction permeates this movement. Perhaps this is a wake-up call to players and audience to once again pay attention to the sounds of music around us!

Notes by the composer