Liane Curtis: "Rebecca Clarke’s Early Pieces for Two Violins and Piano"

Liane Curtis
Rebecca Clarke’s Early Pieces for Two Violins and Piano
Our Expanding Understanding of Her Music
1.  Prelude (Lento)
2.  Nocturne (Adagio)
3.  Danse Bizarre (Vivace)
Laura Bossert and Gabriela Diaz, violinsEliko Akahori, piano
While Rebecca Clarke’s Viola Sonata (1919) has taken its place as a canonic work, the full range of her music remains to be explored.  Several early works were discovered in her estate in 2000, including three pieces for two violins and piano: Prelude, Danse Bizarre and Nocturne.  Although these pieces were premiered and recorded in 2003, their publication took place only in 2012, so the process of understanding their place in her creative output is just beginning.
Written in late 1908 or 1909, while Clarke was studying composition at the Royal College of Music (London), they give no trace of being student works, and instead demonstrate a fully developed, evocative compositional voice.  The Danse Bizarre is mentioned in Clarke’s unpublished memoir (1967-1970), but the other pieces were unknown.  A fourth movement, Finale, survives incomplete, but reveals that the ending of the set was to be brilliant and upbeat, rather than the dark and deeply introspective mood of the Nocturne.   
Clarke’s interest in exoticism (in the Danse Bizarre) draws on her exposure to the Javanese gamelan at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 (which she mentions in her memoir); examples of South-east Asian or East Asian musical influences can be observed in the Viola Sonata and other works as well.  The influence of Rachmaninoff and Scriabin, heard in the Prelude and Nocturne, reveal yet another aspect of Clarke’s stylistic vocabulary, and increase our admiration for this powerful composer, who, at her death, left the bulk of her music unperformed and unpublished.
Liane Curtis biography
Liane Curtis (Presenter), is the President and founder of the Rebecca Clarke Society Inc. (founded in 2000), and the President of Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy (founded in 2008). She holds a PhD in musicology and is Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University. In additional to her many academic publications, she is also active as a music critic.
Laura Bossert, violin
Laura Bossert (violin), a Silver Medalist in the Henryk Szeryng International Violin Competition, teaches at the Longy School of Music and at Wellesley College. A sought-after pedagogue, a list of her many prize-winning and successful students may be found on her website,
Gabriela Diaz, violin
Gabriela Diaz teaches at Wellesley College, and is a renowned Boston-area freelance violinist.  She has recorded on the Mode, Centaur, New World, BMOP Sound, and Tzadik labels.  With an affinity for contemporary music, in the summer of 2007 Gabriela served as Concertmaster under Pierre Boulez at the Lucerne Festival Academy in Switzerland.
Eliko Akahori, piano
Pianist Eliko Akahori teaches at Wellesley College, and has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative pianist to great acclaim on four continents.  In the summers she performs at the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, and has played for the Japanese Emperor’s Family in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.Liane Curtis’s biography and those of the three performers are embedded in the introduction to the video.


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