When Musical Friendships meet great music.

When Musical Friendships meet great music.

David Rowden and Dimitri Ashkenazy Record George Palmer’s It Takes Two Concerto for Two Clarinets and Chamber Orchestra.

Samuel Cottell caught up with Dimitri and David during a break at the recording session and spoke to them about their musical friendship, the concerto and the process of recording an album. 

Last year composer George Palmer was featured on an episode of ABC TVs iconic series, Australians Story, filmed during the rehearsals of his opera Cloudstreet. Palmer started getting his musical compositions out there in 2002, when his father (who was ill at the time) could hear them. Since then he was composed for dozens of ensembles; ranging from solo piano to symphony orchestra. George has a long association with Omega Ensemble and composed, Black, White and a little Blue, to celebrate Artistic Director’s David Rowden and Maria Raspopova’s engagement party in 2010. To follow this, George Palmer’s double Clarinet Concerto, It Takes Two, was premiered by Dimitri Ashkenazy and Omega Ensemble in November 2008. 

George Palmer’s music has all of the ingredients that all audiences love and cherish: Lyrical, tender melodies, dancing, driving rhythms, joyous, yet it can be deeply tender and introspective. It also contains memorable melodic ideas and coherent musical ideas that result in a clear, singing line.  To quote George Palmer: “I very much agree with the proposition that music owes its origin to the instinctive urge in humans to dance and sing. Dance and song inform all of my music. Dancing and singing require recognisable and repeatable rhythmic and melodic patterns. I have always followed Shostakovich's advice to his friend, Benjamin Britten: ‘Ben, never be afraid of a good tune.’ Shostakovich practised what he preached.”

George Palmer writes about his Clarinet Concerto:  "The opening movement of this work is about the affection of good friends. It begins with a short adagio for the two clarinets, a conversation in which each is relaxed and at ease with the other. But the first clarinet soon throws out a challenge, with a brisk semi-quaver motif which the second takes up and returns. The exchanges become more rapid, like thrust and parry, each trying to outdo the other until they have to stop for breath. The first clarinet challenges again with a new motif, angular and agile, but the second poses a variation rather than an imitation. They call a halt to the contest and, in an andante cantabile, reflect again on the opening theme. The first clarinet cannot resist another bout and they are off again with the first motif, neither giving quarter till the end."


Dimitri Ashkenazy and Omega’s own David Rowden met at a masterclass at Sydney Conservatorium and since them have collaborated and performed together on several occasions. Since performing the world premiere of It Takes Two in 2008 they have each undertaking their own musical projects around the world. Now they re-unite in the Eugene Goosens Hall at the ABC to record this very same concerto to be included on Omega Ensemble’s debut CD recording. 

Omega Ensemble recording George Palmer’s  It Takes Two

Omega Ensemble recording George Palmer’s It Takes Two

There are three ways to enjoy Omega's Debut Album. 

Firstly, you can receive a free copy if you purchase a ticket to Omega Ensemble's Romantic Visions - This week only (before Friday 17 March 2017). 

Secondly, you can book a ticket to see a Omega Ensemble's performance of Ian Munro's Songs from the Bush in the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House. This is one of the works on the album. Seeing it live is definitely a moment in time not to be missed. 

Lastly, you can purchase your own copy and continue to support Omega Ensemble and their vision of enriching lives through music.


Samuel Cottell

Samuel Cottell is a multi-verstalie musician (pianist, arranger and composer), writer, music journalist (Leader Writer -Cut Common Mag, Fine Music Magazine, Music and Literature, Jazz Australia and Australian Jazz.org), and biographer. Samuel is also an music educator and currently tutors music theory and analysis in the Arts Music Unit, Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Samuel is currently undertaking his PhD (Musicology) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he is researching the life and music of Tommy Tycho. Samuel has also been published in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and has interviewed world-acclaimed musicians Renee Flemming, Steven Isserlis, Maxim Vengerov, Stuart Skelton and local musicians Daniel Rojas,  Simon Tedeschi and Katie Noonan. As well as these activities Samuel is in demand as a program note writer (Nexas Saxophone Quartet) and gives pre-concert talks for The Grevillea Ensemble and appeared on Radio National's "RareCollections" talking about Tommy Tycho's recording career and contribution to music.