The Rhapsody for bass clarinet and string quartet is inspired by the landscape and music of the Scottish west coast, particularly by the island of South Uist, which I have been visiting frequently for nearly twenty years.
The expressive power of Gaelic song, the vitality of the fiddle music, the vastness of the sea and the wildly unpredictable weather made a deep impression on me, which I have tried to convey in the Rhapsody.
The Rhapsody does not quote folk music, but its themes are built on Hebridean folk music scales: dorian, mixolydian, pentatonic and hexatonic. The architecture of the Rhapsody resembles sonata form, but due to the modal themes, the key relationships are not classical.
That this approach to composition is rooted in late romanticism, is no secret. Indeed, the bass clarinet seems to me one of the most romantic wind instruments, although, strangely enough, it has no solo or chamber music repertoire from that period. Perhaps the Rhapsody can help to fill this gap.
In performance, a few points need particular attention:
The many different tempi need to be well balanced to ensure continuity. Especially, the long accelerandi and ritardandi need to be carefully graduated . The metronome markings are of course approximate, but they should be taken seriously as an indication of the correct tempo relationships.
Many motifs require a narrative tone. The longer, lyrical themes also need "text" in the form of clear and varied articulation. However, this should not interfere with the overall phrasing.