Judith Bailey: Mor Gwyns Op. 61
Clarinet choir (7 parts)
The English translation of the Cornish Mor Gwyns is "Sea Wind", which I felt to be an appropriate title for this work which was commissioned by Richard Carder and his Zephyrian Clarinet Choir, and which is inspired by extracts from four poems relating to the sea. Although the piece is designed to be performed in a single movement, its four sections are easily identified.
The first secion, inspired by Browning's The grey sea and the long black land: and the half-moon large and low... begins with a rising pattern which is present throughout the work. The slow trills which increase in speed suggest shimmering light on the water. A short recitative by the bass clarinet leads into the second section. Here the repeated alternating chords suggest the insistence of the sea's calling in Masefield's verse I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide is a wild call and a clear call and may not be denied; and all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying. A solo on the alto clarinet emerges which is shared with one other clarinet and which is derived from the opening rising pattern. The speed increases to a short repeated note pattern which appears later suggesting a wilder picture. The sea-gulls' crying is suggested by the falling two-note motif with which the alto clarinet ends the section. The third section opens with the repeated note pattern and the music shifts from high to low registers, as suggested by Arnold's words from "Dover Beach". Listen! You hear the grating roar of pebbles which the waves suck back, and fling, at their return, up the high strand, begin, and cease, and then begin again, with tremulous cadence slow, and bring the eternal note of sadness in. This section is calmer and the rising phrase is developed to some extent. Keats' words And on the other side, outspread, is seen ocean's blue mantle streaked with purple and green... have suggested a more subtle treatment of instrumental colour, using again solos for alto and single clarinets which improvise briefly together before they are joined in a slow shimmering trill for all instruments. The final quiet bars are intended to continue Keats' thoughts... Now I direct my eyes into the west, which at this moment is in sunbeams drest.