Two hands to the pipe (1995)
clarinet and strings (or piano) Grade 8+ Duration 11 minutes
Commissioned by Antonia Mott (clarinet) and St Botolphs Music Society (conductor Colin Nicholson) with help from the Hervey Benham Trust
first performed by the commissioners at St Botolph’s Church, Colchester, on 1 July 1995: several subsequent performances.
A fantasia based on the Hebridean folk-song `Two hands to the pipe’. As legend has it, the tune is said to have been played by a piper while he explored a cave in the company of his dog. The dog appeared at the end of the cave with all his hair missing, but the piper was never seen again, although his piping can sometimes be heard. The words of the song, translated from the Gaelic are: ‘Two hands to the pipe, and a hand to the sword, Sad today that I am without three hands!’ The piece ends with the clarinettist slowly walking down the centre and out of the back of the hall, playing all the while, disappearing into the distance…..
`An uncompromising but entertaining piece, combining sustained lyricism with exciting virtuosity’ – Alan Parsons, Essex County Standard
Details from the composer
Here are the opening 2 minutes or so:
And here’s a YouTube link to the complete performance