Review By David Denton, Naxos,November 2007
Nigel Clarke, born in England in 1960, started out his professional career as a trumpeter, but soon felt that he had to pursue further education to establish himself as a composer. There followed several important awards, his music for the cinema creating significant interest. Stylistically he belongs to that growing group of composers who use both tonal and atonal music as best suits their needs at the time, the creation of colour being one of the major ingredients. Only future generations will know whether any of today’s composers intent on exploring many possibilities will eventually establish that definable style that locks them into the listener’s memory. Clarke certainly shows considerable skill in his very diverse output, The Miraculous Violin, scored for violin and strings, being very easy to like, while the two pieces for solo violin, Pernambuco and Loulan offer a new look at the sound spectrum of a solo violin. Samurai was composed in 1995 for Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music Symphonic Wind Orchestra, the title and input relating to its premiere in Japan. It is far from easy to play, Clarke’s knowledge of wind instruments producing a fascinating score whose impact and local colours could well have come from a film score. Premonitions for solo trumpet acts as a prelude to the explosive Black Fire for solo violin and wind ensemble. Powerful, challenging and brilliantly scored, it again conjures up a film scenario. I don’t connect the Royal Marines band with contemporary music, but they show considerable expertise and commitment, while Skaerved’s violin playing is excellent. Very cleanly detailed sound.