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When I began sketching ideas for the Clarinet Sonata, in Spring 2014, it marked the return to writing after a nearly two-year-long break. Unlike some of my previous works, the piece was written comparatively intuitively, over a long period of time, as I did not compete the work until September 2014. The opening monologue for clarinet was written first and then ideas for the epilogue were sketched out. These formed the basis of the material for the two central nocturnes that comprise the main body of the music.

Nocturne I is the more traditionally ‘nocturnal’ movement. The ‘setting’ for the piece is the sea and during Nocturne I the music conjures up the darkness and stillness of the sea at night, which is gradually disturbed by something more ominous. Nocturne II is, by contrast, more of a nightmare – a repetitive dream which the music struggles to escape from, only succeeding as the music leads into the epilogue.

I am grateful to my husband, Nathan Winters, for answering all my questions relating to clarinet technique and for patiently trying out sketches of ideas-in-progress. The second movement, however, was written with the specific intention of making him practise, while I hope still remaining playable and within the techniques of most advanced players!

Elizabeth Winters