We got a lovely Holiday surprise when our all-Canadian CD Incarnation was recently picked by CBC as one of the top 10 Classical Album of 2017! We are delighted beyond words! Thanks to the composers – Chan Ka Nin, Alice Ho, Andrew Staniland, Denis Gougeon and Jocelyn Morlock – for writing us such fabulous pieces and to the recording team of David Jaeger and Dennis Patterson for their amazing work in the booth.
As 2017 comes to a close we’re so pleased to share our newest CD – Perfect Light – a collection of original holiday arrangements written especially for us – and clarinettist Christine Carter who joins us on five tracks – by Clifford Crawley. Creating this CD was an extraordinarily meaningful experience as it was the last project Cliff worked on before he passed away in February of 2016.
We developed a special friendship with Cliff over the ten plus years he lived in St. John’s. He had retired from teaching composition at Queen’s University and followed his wife, renowned ethnomusicologist Bev Diamond, when she joined the Memorial University faculty. Cliff took no time in becoming a vital part of his new home, embracing opportunities to write for numerous St. John’s musicians with vigor, skill, and great generosity. The Duo’s first collaboration with Cliff was It Takes Two – an encore CD designed to showcase both the violin and piano equality. Cliff seemed to effortlessly produce these 14 wonderful and witty arrangements of opera arias, jazz tunes, musical numbers, and classical hits, recasting these well-known pieces in a fresh and imaginative way. More requests followed – ballet arrangements, original pieces – all produced with speed, enthusiasm, tremendous creativity, and big-heartedness.
Our final requests of Cliff turned out to be these Christmas arrangements. It is not an easy task to arrange vocal music, where the text can change with each verse, for instruments only. Yet Cliff found a way to bring these tunes alive with just violin, piano, and, now and then, a clarinet. Often using the song as merely a starting point for an original fantasia, he cast new light on these old favorites. He worked on these up to the end of his life, completing them all but for “In the Bleak Midwinter”, which we recorded as a fragment only.
We are ever grateful for his treasured presence that lives on in our hearts through all these works, and we will always remember his kindness, wit, wisdom, talent, and generosity. This CD is dedicated to his memory.