Gymel-B - "...on Planet X with CN...", Op. 39/2

scoring: clarinet and cello

duration: 14'

composed: 1995




status: not yet available





programme note:

Gymel-B is one of a set of four pieces related by the idea of twinship: the word 'gymel' is an old English term for duet, deriving from the Latin for 'twin'. Two of the pieces are for performers who are themselves twins, and the other two are for instruments whose twinship is of the fraternal rather than theidentical type. Such is clearly the case with clarinet and cello: they are different in timbre, while overlapping in range; but each displays such varied tonal qualities within their own sound-world as to show a similar tendency to overlap in the dimension of timbre as well.

This built-in complexity of relationship between instruments is symbolised by the deliberately enigmatic subtitle of the work: "On Planet X with CN" CN is the American composer Conlon Nancarrow, to the relentless rhythmic style of whose player-piano studies my own piece pays an affectionate tribute, without venturing upon any direct imitition. Nancarrow's own Study X, a1so a two-voiced work, plays with relating range to speed: the expressive result is in its own terms absolutely exhilarating, rather like Scarlatti relived in terms of Varèse. For my own part, I wanted to extend such dimensional conflicts into other areas of caontrast and so found myself on another planet X, where by happy chance, CN is my companion.

Gymel-B is in four movements of roughly equa1 length, and lasts some 14'.

Justin Connolly

Connolly left Gymel-B in an unfinished state. Or rather, overfinished: he finished all four movements but then embarked on a thoroughgoing recomposition of the last movement, which was left with a gap of several systems near the end. Some years later, when I was compiling his worklist for Grove 7, he told me it was unfinished but "only a matter of copying". No subsequent pieces in this "set of four" were composed - only Gymel-A beforehand was completed.

This is one of several reasons why we have chosen not to publish the finished, unrevised version, but rather attempt a reconstruction of his intentions for the recomposition using the available material. The other main one is the sheer ambition and quality of what he had completed of the recomposed last movement, followed by the relative ease of the transplant necessary: not only is the amount of space to filled fixed by virtue of being in the middle of a fair copied scored, the space has at its end the same music as the original version, making the selection of the apropriate section to transpant significantly more straightforward. We feel the result is at least plausible, and allows this powerful piece to be performed at last.

Nicolas Hodges


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