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International stars to premiere Martin Suckling’s Visiones at Aldeburgh Festival

Posted on 11 June 2015

The world premiere of Music Department Lecturer Martin Suckling’s new clarinet trio, Visiones (after Goya), will take place on 20th June at the Aldeburgh Festival. The performers, Mark Simpson (clarinet), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), and Tamara Stefanovich (piano), are part of a star-studded line up for a sold-out concert that also includes pianists Pierre-Laurent Aimard, George Benjamin and Florent Boffard, and violinist Isobel Faust in music by Ravel, Debussy, and Benjamin himself.

Commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival, Suckling’s trio explores the lyrical potential of microtonal tuning alongside wildly energetic dances. Outlining the music’s inspiration in the images of Spanish painter Francisco Goya, the composer writes: 

“On page 10 of the Goya sketchbook generally known as the Witches and Old Women album, there is an image captioned by a single word: ‘Visiones’.  An elderly couple dance, apparently suspended midair in an awkward embrace: his attention seems elsewhere; she may be picking his pocket.  The pen-strokes are few, and the ink and wash technique makes the image seem as though momentarily conjured out of smoke.  But without a doubt they are dancing, this strange couple, ready to step off the page, so alive is the penmanship.  Peeking out from behind a fold of the lady’s skirt or the man’s cloak is a grinning face, all sunken eyes and wrinkled skin, laughing at … what? The dancers, the viewer, the world?

As I drew together materials for this clarinet trio, Goya’s vision haunted my dreams. It’s not the piece but it drew the piece into its orbit: three odd characters, bound together in dance.  There is a kind of beauty there, I think, and elegance, and poise, and some sweet melancholy.  But also obsession and violence and no way out.  As I shaped the piece, these ideas shaped my thinking.”

The Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts runs from 12th - 28th June 2015.

Published by Faber Music, Martin Suckling’s scores are available for perusal online at