Chamber Works


For Bb Clarinet & String Quartet

Duration: 13 minutes

Commissioned by, and dedicated to, Linda Merrick.

Each movement of this piece evokes a story from folklore used to illustrate perceived dangers, hence Cautionary Tales.

1. Carbrooke Dancers
With its irregular dance rhythms, this movement is inspired by the medieval legend of young girls turned to stone after dancing to the music of a strange fiddler in a churchyard. Priests used the legend to warn against merry-making on Sundays and Christian festivals.

2. The Mermaid's Pool
The modal colouring and spaciousness of this movement evoke the legend of drowned young women who lured passers-by into sharing their fate through hypnotic songs. Mothers used the story to warn children of the dangers of water.

3. Lantern Man
The virtuosic finale with its busy textures depicts the flickering lights that can appear in marshes through combustion of gases. Characters with names like Jack o' Lantern, Kit with the Canstick, and Will o' the Wisp were said to lead people into the marshes, often to their deaths, a story designed to deter nightime wanderers.

Distributor:  J. W. Pepper


Bb Clarinet

Violin I

Violin II



Additional Notes:

The piece is not commercially available, but please contact me if you are interested in having a look at the score and/or parts.

CD Review:

Clarinet & Saxophone Magazine

Volume 35 - No.3  pp 44/45

Autumn 2010

An extract from a review of Linda Merrick's CD, "British Clarinet Quintets"

Kit Turnbull's Three Cautionary Tales are based on medieval folklore, and much of the writing has a canonic quality which is reminiscent of modal polyphony, madrigal and folk-music, yet still sounds fresh and modern. Highlights include Linda Merrick's beautifully lonely playing at the opening of the work and at the end of the second movement, as well as her urgent, jumping lines underpinned by exciting, pulsating playing from the strings in the third movement. This is excellent attractive contemporary music played very well, which I immediately listened to a second time simply because I found it so appealing.


This is a well-recorded CD with outstanding committed performances from Linda Merrick and the Navarra Quartet. This project has been the catalyst for the creation of four excellent new additions to the clarinet quintet repertoire, which complement the classic Brahms and Mozart works well and have the substance to stand the test of time in their own right.

-- Kyle Horch

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