<< -- 4 -- Malcolm Miller AN INDIVIDUAL VOICE
The instrumental premières of the evening displayed a different lighter facet to Dawes' style
and were all composed in the last two years. Most appealing was the five movement Little Suite for
Clarinet (2003), designed for young players, which was charmingly performed by the ten-year-old
Mikaela Algranati, whose mother Carol Kohn accompanied her with aplomb. The five movements have a
jazzy feel, yet tinged with a more searching dissonance and wit, and form a compact continuum.
'Intrada' with its jazzy chords is followed by a long-breathed melodic 'Nocturne', the clarinet
poised over flowing piano arpeggios. A more effulgent lyricism in 'Cantilena' leads through a
contrapuntal 'Intermezzo' to the taut rhythmic 'Solemn March' to conclude. The intriguing
Sonatina (2002) for solo double bass received an engaging, if sometimes hesitant,
première by Lucy Shaw, the jazz and classical performer for whom it was written. The outer
movements are both jazzy, with ostinati and motivic development in the first and brighter
pizzicato textures and dance-like rhythms in the finale. At the centre was a more intense
slow movement in which every interval was emphasised, from the biting seconds of the opening through
harmonics and a wider leaping melody.
Two shorter ditties brought lighter relief: Caprice
(2003) for piano duet, played by the composer and Stephen Dickinson features a popular riff and
unusually tuneful middle section, while Dickinson accompanied Nicholas Tudor in a witty rendition
of Two comic songs (2003): 'My Familiar', a settings of John Godfrey Saxe and 'Limericks
from Lear', in which vocal effects were used to link a series of pithy cabaret style stanzas.
Performed with a sense of fun and camaraderie, the shorter works added spice to a stimulating and
refreshing evening that affirmed the composer's innovative and original qualities. Yet it was in
the two vocal cycles that these qualities were most keenly sensed, and where one was left with a
sense of passionate poetry thoughtfully interpreted through a deeply felt, and always individual