Blaze and Fall

One of the best loved and most enduring works in the trio repertoire is Schumann’s enigmatic Märchenerzahlungen. Although suffering increasingly from the mental illness that had affected him for most of his life, Schumann completed these four whimsical and delicately beautiful movements over only three days in 1853. He sent a copy of the newly published work to a friend with the inscription ‘on a good day’, and, just one week later, attempted to take his own life by jumping into the river Rhine.

One hundred and thirty seven years later, the legendary Hungarian composer György Kurtág wrote his Hommage à R. Sch.– a six movement masterpiece, drawing on (among countless other references and fragments) the characters of Florestan and Eusebius, Schumann’s own personification of the contrasting aspects of his own character.

Finally in 2003, Marco Stroppa completed Hommage a Gy. K, bringing spacial and movement aspects into the mix, with an extraordinarily inventive seven-part work.

With these three closely linked works forming such a vital part of the trio repertoire, it was a long held desire of the trio to explore these links and to expand them further.

In 2016 they commissioned award winning composer Charlotte Bray to write a piece drawing on all three works. With generous support from from The RVW Trust, Ambache Charitable Trust and Fidelio Charitable Trust, Blaze and Fall was premiered at St John’s Smith Square in 2017, as part of the Park Lane Group series.

Charlotte writes:

The richness and diversity found in the line of ‘Homage’ from Schumann to Kurtag and, in turn, to Marco Stroppa, renders the commission to succeed with a new work, an inspirational and exciting proposition. Considering also, the rich sonorities of clarinet, viola and piano in combination and the sumptuous palette of colour this presents. Openly embracing the limitless creativeness of Schumann, the enviable precision of Kurtag and the intrepid inventiveness of Stroppa, I have sought to shape their separate offerings into my own voice. Taking themes inherent in the Schumann and Kurtag: night, sun, clouds, cycles, anxiety and love to inspire (as did Schumann) the imaginary world of the piece.
The most obvious influence drawn from Kurtag is structural, following his pattern of five short movements succeeded by a sixth that is far longer than the five put together, as a model for the new work- one which stands apart from others in my oeuvre. For each of the first five movements, I borrowed a ‘cell’ of material from Kurtag as a starting point, a harmony or figuration for instance. The final movement was approached more freely, although as the base I inserted a chord structure consisting of an ascending and then descending bass line, which repeats in transposed variations throughout. This technique was influenced by Kurtag’s use of Isorhythm, which he borrowed from the medieval French composer Machaut. The Fibonacci sequence, which attracted Kurtag, plays a part in organising chords, intervals, rhythms and structures.
In contrast to the German titles used for each of the other movements, Kurtag’s fourth movement takes a Hungarian title, from the work of poet Attila Jozsef. The title Blaze and Fall is also from Jozsef, his 1933 poem ‘Ode’, which reads ‘Stars blaze and fall but you stand still in my eyes’, fits well with the spirit of the work.


Blaze and Fall

Tam Lin


The Jacquin Trio are an audacious classical chamber ensemble, dedicated to exploring, expanding and celebrating music for the inimitable combination of clarinet, viola/violin and piano.