eyam ii (taking apart your universe)

for contrabass clarinet solo and an ensemble of five chamber groupings: [soprano saxophone], [trumpet, percussion], [violin, bass flute, cello], [electric guitar], [bassoon, double bass, piano]

 

Eyam is a small village in Derbyshire, England. It is best known for being the “plague village” that chose to isolate itself when the plague was discovered there in August 1665, rather than let the infection spread. eyam ii (taking apart your universe) is the second piece in a series of five attacca pieces for clarinets and flutes, all of which deal with ideas of isolation and infiltration.

The role of the solo contrabass clarinet has its origins in eyam i (it takes an ocean not to) for solo Bb clarinet, which follows attacca into eyam ii. In eyam i, the core language of the solo Bb clarinet is infiltrated by what are thought of as four “unknown elements”: four different languages that the clarinet must learn to integrate and speak. In order to show the clarinet what it could not see in eyam i, these elements are sonically transplanted on to five different chamber groupings in eyam ii, each group deconstructing the “universe” of the contrabass clarinet, revealing the bigger picture that the solo Bb clarinet represented only the surface of in eyam i.

 

Listen to a recording of the piece, performed by soloist Carol McGonnell and The Argento Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Michel Galante: 

 

Look at an excerpt from the score: eyam_ii_score_excerpt

 

Watch an interview with Ann Cleare, Michel Galante, and David Plylar from the premiere of the piece at The Library of Congress, Washington D.C. in October 2016: