It’s a game of two halves in this approachable programme from Elizabeth Jordan and Lynsey Marsh (clarinets and basset horn, with the Northern Chamber Orchestra and Stephen Barlow). But it’s all in a good cause — profits go to Parkinson’s UK.
The programme features music written and/or performed by people who either suffered from a degenerative disease or lost parents to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease. Both the soloists lost parents to the diseases.
The two halves are because CD1 is more traditional, CD2 modern — living composers — but the two go together well.
The opening piece is Felix Mendelssohn’s Concertpiece No.1 in F major, Op. 113, written in return for food: at the end of 1832 Mendelssohn was living in Berlin and two Munich musicians promised to bring portions of steamed dumplings and rahmstrudel — regional dishes the composer clearly loved but couldn’t buy — if he would write them a piece. This charming piece was the result.
Mendelssohn died at a young age due to degenerative disease, and the next composer Strauss wrote Sonatina No. one in F major during a period of severe influenza and depression.
CD2 is more modern and slightly quirkier: Kevin Malone and John Adams struggled to cope when their fathers both succumbed to Alzheimer’s, and the works are serious but also humorous.
Adams’ father was an amateur clarinet player who gave Adams lessons on the instrument when he was in school, though the composer never wrote a piece for it until he was 50.
His dad at this stage had Alzheimer’s Disease and became obsessed with the clarinet. Once his mother was emptying out a load of laundry into the washing machine, and saw his father had taken the clarinet apart and hid it in the dirty laundry.
Adams’ piece is Gnarly Buttons, which includes Hoe-Down (Mad Cow), written during the mad cow epidemic in the UK, complete with cow effects. Malone’s piece uses clarinet and electronica, the latter repeating the notes to try and replicate the trapped-memory world of an Alzheimer’s sufferer.