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Work of the Week – Huw Watkins: Four Fables

On 31 July, Huw Watkin’s new chamber work Four Fables for clarinet and piano trio will receive its world premiere at Three Choirs Festival in Hereford, performed by clarinettist Robert Plane and the Gould Piano Trio.

Four Fables was co-commissioned by the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival in celebration of its 20th anniversary, Swansea International Festival, Three Choirs Festival and Wigmore Hall. Watkins composed the work specifically for Robert Plane, who is principal clarinettist for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, where Watkins holds the position of Composer-in-Association.

Huw Watkins – Four Fables: Fanciful character

As the name suggests, Four Fables is comprised of four movements, with slower Lento movements encircling a faster Allegro second movement. The unusual instrumental combination of clarinet, violin, cello and piano is one made famous by Olivier Messiaen with his Quartet for the End of Time, yet it was in fact the fanciful character of Robert Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen (fairy tale narrations) for clarinet, viola and piano that most inspired Watkins:

‘When I started composing my new piece, I had Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen (for clarinet, viola and piano) in the back of my mind. Schumann was interested in the “picturesque and the fanciful” but left no link to specific fairy tales. This was a similar starting point for me, when writing these four varied fables.’ -Huw Watkins

 Following the premiere, Robert Plane and the Gould Piano Trio will tour Four Fables throughout the UK, including performances at Corbridge Chamber Music Festival on 5 August, Church Stretton Festival on 6 August and Swansea International Festival on 30 September, with further performances planned for 2019.


©photo: Benjamin Ealovega