Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra

Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra


For Clarinet and Orchestra

I: Intermezzo
II: Waltz
III: Theme and Variations
IV: Rondo

Since secondary school, I have been fascinated by the idea of writing a large-scale work; I started having the aspiration to write and play a concerto at my graduation concert in my first year. Unfortunately, the stars didn’t align for me to even start a piano concerto, but various unrelated occasions provided the opportunity for a clarinet concerto instead: four movements, taken from four different, smaller pieces, coming together to form a complete concerto, so that I can collaborate, as a composer-conductor, with the clarinettist that I worked with most as an accompanist.

These four movements each offer a modernised, personal take on recognisably Classical forms. The intermezzo, taken from my Introduction and Intermezzo for clarinet, viola, cello and piano, is a hint that this is a traditionally constructed work—it starts with a ‘bridge’ connecting various previous clarinet concertos to this one. It starts almost silently, growing from nothingness into a D-flat and subsequently a thematic augmented triad, before leading into a light-hearted waltz, which is occasionally disrupted by all kinds of rhythmic juxtapositions. After a violent climax in unison, the music enters a mystic world mostly populated by whole tones, where directionless phrases alternate rapidly yet smoothly, and repetition bordering on minimalism, yet rhythmic peculiarities once again moves the music forward. Before you know it, the music is back to its first theme, transposed to D-key as the introduction foreshadowed. Multiple rhythmic layers build up to a timbrally unique climax and a forceful end.

The piece moves on swiftly to another fast movement, the waltz, which is where everything started. The theme is playful, almost childish in nature. Tonality slowly breaks down in the latter part of the dance and the trio as instruments enter in unison or canon in different keys.

The music slows down as the horns bridge the waltz to the theme and variations, also set in D major, originally for clarinet and piano. The movement is entirely tonal, but shifts dramatically in style from variation to variation. Instead of repeating the same structure of the theme and varying the figurations, each variation takes a small part of the theme and develops new materials out of it. While the simple and songlike theme is relatively Brahmsian or even Mozartian, the variations go from a quiet canon to a fleeting dance, from an energetic burst to a dreamy haze. Particularly notable is the variation Einfach, innig, where a gentle, Schumannian duet is set up between the winds and the strings—in different keys. A waltz reminiscent of the previous movement leads to the brilliant, eighteenth-century coda.

Even though the third movement satisfies the listener who expects an ending resembling Classical concertos, my piece ends with a rondo, originally for wind quintet. Opening with an easily recognisable, jumpy whole-tone motif, the music then moves on to a more melancholy melody based on the same theme, in a tonal context. The episodes of the rondo gives brief callbacks to previous movements, before building up to a cadenza that is just as eclectic as any other parts of the work. The concerto ends with a calm oboe solo.


Work history

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