Bruce - Gumboots; Brahms - Clarinet Quintet | Signum SIGCD448

Bruce - Gumboots; Brahms - Clarinet Quintet


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Label: Signum

Cat No: SIGCD448

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Chamber

Release Date: 15th April 2016



Julian Bliss (clarinet, bass clarinet)
Carducci Quartet


Brahms, Johannes

Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op.115

Bruce, David



Julian Bliss (clarinet, bass clarinet)
Carducci Quartet


Julian Bliss and the Carducci Quartet pair two highly contrasting works – Johannes Brahms's Clarinet Quintet and David Bruce's Gumboots.

Written for bass clarinet and string quartet, David Bruce describes the origins of his work:

"... it was born out of the brutal labour conditions in South Africa under apartheid, in which black miners where chained together and wore gumboots (wellington boots) while they worked in the flooded gold mines, because it was cheaper for the owners to supply the boots than to drain the floodwater from the mine. Apparently slapping the boots and chains was used by the workers as a form of communication which was otherwise banned in the mine, and this later developed into a form of dance. If the examples of Gumboot Dancing available online are anything to go by, it is characterised by a huge vitality and zest for life. So this for me is a striking example of how something beautiful and life-enhancing can come out of something far more negative."


Here’s a double delight. First, an engaging new work which deserves a place in the chamber repertory; second, a passionate account of Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet which can hold its head high against starrier competition. ... Gumboots is by David Bruce (whose terrific new opera Nothing premiered at Glyndebourne recently). Its title derives from gumboot dancing – a type of secret communication developed by black miners in Apartheid South Africa, where the slapping of boots and chains in the flooded mines turned into a sort of dance. A long, tranquil opening movement gives way to five short, incredibly catchy dances. Doubling bass clarinet, Bliss is in his element, each dance strongly rhythmic, with a distinctive folk feel. The performers’ sense of fun is palpable.  Mark Pullinger
Gramophone July 2016
Gumboots, written in 2008, is a quintet for clarinet and strings in which [David Bruce] looks to Gumboot dancing – born out of how black miners in apartheid South Africa, forbidden to speak, communicated by slapping their boots and chains. After a long opening movement of heat haze, come five increasingly complex dances, reverberating with the smack of wood and bow on string and with the wheeling, almost klezmer-like playing of Julian Bliss, who flits seamlessly between regular and bass clarinet. The joyous rhythmic barrage of the finale could almost be out of a Falla ballet.  Erica Jeal
The Guardian 13 May 2016
Gramophone Editor's Choice

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