Clarinet Quintet ‘Crawhall’
for Clarinet and string quartet
Joseph Crawhall II (1821-1896) was an engraver, writer, businessman, patron of arts, book designer, collector of antiquities, campaigner for the perseveration of architecture and a significant character in the life of Newcastle. His colourful life and wonderful woodblock illustrations have inspired this clarinet quintet which I hope gives some flavour of this most remarkable and likeable man.
© Ronald Corp, 2012
Arguably the 19th-century equivalent of a true Renaissance man, Joseph Crawhall (1821-1896) had a remarkable range of talents and interests. The son of a former Lord Mayor of Newcastle, he was among other things a brilliant wood engraver, author, illustrator and book designer, cartoonist, angler, humorist, lover of sword dancing and the Northumbrian pipes, and patron of architecture and the arts – and still found time to run the family rope works.
I was introduced to his work by Peter Lobbenberg, to whom the work is dedicated, and this clarinet quintet was written out of my growing affection for this wonderful man.
I wanted to capture something of his humanity, his wit, his love of life, his love of family, his sense of humour, and also to represent in music something of the characteristics of his woodcuts and drawings. But don’t look for anything too specific in the music. The introduction to the first movement tries to represent a man perfectly at one with himself and the world, while the third movement suggests a man of wit, and captures some of the flavour of his woodcuts and drawings. There is also a whiff of folk music in the middle section of the second movement and a frenetic dance motif in the finale. But these are just ‘suggestions’.
The quintet also fulfills its musical credentials as a formal four-movement work with the slow movement placed second and a lighter dance-like movement placed third. Needless to say the clarinet is a versatile instrument that can be witty and raucous, as well as being subdued and sad, so it was an ideal candidate to represent this most remarkable man.
© Ronald Corp, 2012
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