Rebecca Clarke: Complete Works for Solo Piano - Theme & Variations, Cortège & He Hath Filled The Hungry [Printed Music]



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Though some of Rebecca Clarke’s most successful pieces feature the piano, such as her Viola Sonata (1919), Rhapsody for Cello (1923), and Piano Trio (1921) and her writing for the instrument in those scores is both idiomatic and inventive, she only wrote a handful of solo piano pieces, all present in this publication.

Clarke’s Theme and Variations (1908) is her most extended piano work. The piece dates from the time of her studies with Charles Villiers Stanford at the Royal College of Music, and it won her a Council Exhibition, a cash prize covering half her fees for the year. Rebecca Clarke’s natural melodic gifts are already in evidence throughout this score, which is enlivened by wit and charm and graced with an inner strength and poise. 

Rebecca Clarke met the composer William Busch at various musical and social events from 1927 to 1937. On 13 July 1932, he mentions in his diary trying out a piece by Clarke and receiving ‘good advice from Rebecca over her piece’. The piece, which Busch was premiering, was a short work entitled Cortège that Clarke had written for Busch in 1930. The constantly shifting chords create a gently exotic, Impressionistic atmosphere.

During her marriage, from September 1944, to the American pianist and composer James Friskin, Clarke wrote only one original composition, the song, God made a Tree, to a text by the violinist Katharine Kendall, and two arrangements. One of these ‘He Hath filled the Hungry’, is a near-literal transcription for solo piano of the aria ‘Esurientes implevit bonis’ from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat, BWV 243. Though the score does not bear a date, it is believed to date from the mid-1950s. The work is characteristically grateful to play, the flowing lines falling easily under the fingers. © Paul Conway

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