Stephen Johnson:

The Nimble & Roguish Paw

(Two Cat Studies for Cor Anglais & Clarinet)

  1. ‘No less liquid…’
  2. Cato and the Bird

Cats, those fascinating, beautiful, alarming beings who permit the favoured amongst us to take them into our homes, have fascinated me since early childhood. They can be remarkably, unsettlingly intelligent, and occasionally just bizarre. Unlike open-hearted, endlessly forgiving dogs, they should never, never be laughed at – although there are times…

The overall title for these two ‘Cat Studies’ is taken from a delightfully left-field book entitled The Tiger in the House, by Carl van Vechten. The subtitle of the first movement evokes a deliciously eerie poem by Arthur Tessimond: ‘Cats no less liquid than their shadows / Offer no angles to the wind.’ As for the second, this depicts our half-Bengal cat Cato’s attempts to catch a bird, whose nagging, insistent alarm call we hear at the beginning, and his rage when his efforts (fortunately) fail.



Stephen Johnson

World Premiere

Australian Chamber Music Festival, Townsville
31 July 2023 at 10.30am

Cats no less liquid than their shadows,
Offer no angles to the wind.

Arthur Tessimond