Andrew Ford (b. 1957)

Sounds and sweet airs (2003)
for flute and clarinet

This piece began as a clarinet solo written to celebrate the 75th birthday of my colleague, Peter Tahourdin. I intended it to be just about a minute long, and I was hoping to knock it off in about 24 hours, not least so it would reach Peter on the right day. But it kept going wrong. I began it three or four times before the flute suddenly appeared, and then I had three more attempts at what was now a duo before I was finally satisfied. The final version was six minutes long, it had taken ten solid days of work and, of course, I had missed Peter's birthday. Nothing daunted, I packed the piece into an Express Mail envelope, took it to my local post office and mailed it to the wrong address. Peter was well into his 76th year before he knew of the existence of his present.

The title comes, as several of my titles do, from Shakespeare's The Tempest, a play with which Peter Tahourdin himself has a long association. The words are spoken by the 'monster' Caliban in one of the play's most beautiful speeches:

Be not afeard: the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.

© A.F.