HARRISON Pamela, Drifting Away (for clarinet and piano)
Pamela Harrison studied at the Royal College of Music with Gordon Jacob (composition) and Arthur Benjamin (piano), and she composed several important works during the Second World War, including a String Quartet first performed in 1941 at the National Gallery Concerts. She wrote several important works for clarinet, inspired in part by a warm friendship with Jack Brymer for whom she composed a rugged and dramatic Clarinet Sonata in 1953, following this with a Clarinet Quintet in 1956. Drifting Away dates from two decades later: it was first performed by Brymer in 1975 at Sherbourne School. The title was derived from lines by W.B. Yeats:
I heard the old, old men say
All that’s beautiful drifts away
Like the waters.
Appropriately enough, this tender and evocative work, exquisitely crafted, was played by Brymer at the memorial service for Pamela Harrison in 1990.
© Nigel Simeone