Lachlan Skipworth on 'Partita'

One of the great joys I have in my job comes from working with composers. I've known Lachlan Skipworth for a number of years, and have constantly been inspired and challenged by his music, sense of humour, and our many thought-provoking conversations. After working with him on his piece for Arcadia Winds, Echoes and Lines, it was a no brainer to ask him if he'd write a piece for solo clarinet. I remember speaking to him on the phone, having just asked him what he thought of the idea, listening to the excitement and apprehension in his voice. It was certainly a mixed response if ever I'd heard one.

Much to my delight, he eventually caved to the idea, one that seemingly placed him outside of his comfort zone. I'm quite thankful he did, because what he's crafted for the clarinet is something so utterly unique, achingly beautiful, and fiendishly challenging.

I asked Lachlan if he'd offer a few brief words about the piece. I'm thrilled to share those with you below. I'll be sharing a recording from the first performance of the new work as soon as I have it.

"About 18 months ago, Lloyd put in a formal request for a solo clarinet work as a follow up to my wind-quintet Echoes and Lines for Arcadia Winds.

I sat on the idea for some time, because as a composer who thinks very harmonically the idea of a solo piece can be quite confronting - the safety net is gone.

However, I resolved to use the opportunity as a challenge to re-assess my method of writing single-line melody.

The most obvious source of inspiration, which I’m sure you’ll hear in the first movement, was Bach. His solo works are so compelling in their ability to paint a complete harmonic picture through a single line. (I do, and I'm sure Lloyd does, have a clarinet player's professional jealousy at the solo Partitas and Suites for violin and cello!)

The third movement actually began life as a solo for the shinobue, a Japanese piccolo, for my big work for Sydney Symphony, Riley Lee and Taikoz last year. I’d taken an almost mathematical approach to building 3 or 4 note melodic cells and then trying to assemble them more like a puzzle. The material didn’t make the cut in the orchestral work but was revived here, without the deafening percussive accompaniment.

And the middle slow movement elongates a single 8-bar phrase into a sound world that is more like a traditional shakuhachi piece. I often argue that, of the western woodwind instruments it is actually the clarinet that is closest to the shakuhachi, not the flute as many might think!"

- Lachlan Skipworth

Want to find out more about Lachlan?

Check out his website :)


©2020 by Lloyd Van't Hoff Clarinetist. Photography by Keith Saunders.