`Equiano’ now out as a digital release on the Naxos label

Nigel’s clarinet quintet `Equiano’ is out this month as a digital release on the Naxos label. The album is called  `British Clarinet Quintets’ (9.70122) and is performed by Linda Merrick (Clarinet) and the Navarra Quartet. Other composers featured are Martin Ellerby, Kit Turnbull and Edwin Roxburgh. `Equiano’ and other works by Nigel can be found on ITunes and the Naxos website to download. Equiano is inspired by the life story of Nigerian-born Olaudah Equiano (1745–97), who at the age of eleven was kidnapped and sold to slave traders. Transported to Virginia, he was subsequently bought by a British naval officer and taken to London where his master renamed him Gustavus Vassa. He bought his freedom in 1833, and became an important member of the abolitionist movement alongside Clarkson and Wilberforce. His story, documented in his book The Interesting Narrative, increased public awareness of the inhumanity of enslavement. Conceived in a single movement, the piece is episodic in structure, with the clarinet representing the character of Equiano and the strings frequently evoking the inhumanity of humanity. The periodic use of antique cymbals and chain is a constant reminder of Equiano’s slavery. As the piece builds to its frenetic final moments, the clarinet seems to grow in confidence, and to at least match, if not outdo, the strings. (From Programme Note by Colin Beeson)

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