A duo concertante for violin, viola and piano
This work was written around 1940, placing it near the beginning of a series of Clarke's late compositions. It both looks forward to her lean, linear, avowedly modern conceptions and backwards to works which are explicit homages to ancient styles, forms, and composers. A strain from the gypsy-rondo of Brahms's Piano Quartet Op. 25 echoes throughout the opening pages and is heard again in the piece's remarkable conclusion.
Rebecca Clarke was born in Harrow in 1886 and died in New York City in 1979. She was one of the finest viola players of her day and a skilful composer who studied with Stanford at the Royal College of Music in London. Her output as a composer was small, comprising about 90 works, but all these pieces are brilliant and powerful. Her Piano Trio and Viola Sonata are often played and recorded, and are now widely regarded as masterpieces. However her songs are perhaps her finest body of works, and embrace a variety of styles from Blakean simplicity to brutal tragedy and outright farce. Rebecca Clarke's choral music was virtually unknown until Oxford University Press began to publish these works for the first time. She wrote for chorus and other vocal ensembles throughout virtually her whole career, from her earliest attempts at composition around 1906 to her final flowering in the 1940s, revising and recomposing until as late as 1976.