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The Nash Ensemble Debut New Works by John Casken and Alexander Goehr

Sep. 01, 2017

The Nash Ensemble Debut New Works by John Casken and Alexander Goehr

As part of their next 'Nash Inventions' concert, The Nash Ensemble have commissioned works from two Schott composers—John Casken and Alexander Goehr. The premieres take place at Wigmore Hall on September 20 in a program pairing the two new works with music by Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Casken and Goehr, both of whose relationships with The Nash Ensemble span several decades, join writer and critic Tom Service for a pre-concert discussion.

There is a sense of unease in the imagined landscape of John Casken’s new quintet Misted Land, as familiar shapes take on a new and sometimes grotesque and frightening appearance. Scored for clarinet and string quartet, the work offers fragments of folk-like melodies which serve as points of a distant and reassuring familiarity for the listener.

(John Casken’s Infanta Marina, commissioned and premiered by The Nash Ensemble in 1994)

Alexander Goehr’s after ‘The Waking’ takes its name from a poem by Theodore Roethke, which the composer previously set to music for two voices. This quintet—for clarinet, bassoon, horn, violin and double bass—is a fantasia in five movements on material that Goehr explains ‘wouldn’t let me go’ from the earlier work. In the premiere performance, The Nash Ensemble pair the new work with Goehr’s original The Waking, featuring baritone soloists Simon Wallfisch and Peter Tregear.

For more information on John Casken and Alexander Goehr, visit

John Casken
Misted Land (2017)
for clarinet quintet

Infanta Marina (1993-1994; rev. 1997)
for English horn and small ensemble
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Alexander Goehr
after ‘The Waking’, op. 101 (2017)
for quintet