I had been asked to write a work for bass clarinet by Helen Paskins who wanted to include this beautiful instrument in her clarinet recitals and present new works specifically composed for it. The score was completed in early February 2011 and the première was given by Helen Paskins at Charlton House, London, on 27th May that same year.
L'Orfeo takes its inspiration from Monteverdi’s opera of the same name. It contains, however, no direct musical quotations from the original: I wanted, rather, to recreate something of the atmosphere of its wonderful central scenes. Eurydice has been killed by a serpent’s bite. Orpheus follows her to the Underworld. Eventually, Pluto is persuaded to allow Eurydice to return to the world of the living on condition that Orpheus, in leading her out, does not look back at her. Unable to resist, he turns to Eurydice and she is lost forever.
My warmest thanks are due to Helen Paskins, not only for the beautiful performances she has given of this work, but also for her most generous advice and assistance in completing this edition.” - Graham Sheen
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