CONCERT FOR CLARINET AND ORCHESTRA

Composed: 1994
Written for Richard Stoltzman
Premiere:  Dan Silver, Roanoke Symphony, Ming-Feng Hsin, guest cond., 2/12/96
Duration:  11 minutes
Instrumentation:  Solo clarinet, 2(picc.)222(cbsn); 2220; timp., 2 perc., strings

PROGRAM NOTES

I.  Prelude
II.  Vivace Ritmico

The Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra was written in 1994 for Richard Stoltzman. In the Prelude, the solo clarinet floats above or below, or winds around and through orchestral sonorities that are sometimes warm, singing and sparkling, and sometimes languid, hazy clouds of sound. An ascending motif begins in the clarinet and occurs frequently throughout, drifting upward at the end of the movement.

The peace and tranquility of the Prelude changes drastically when all caution lets loose in the light-hearted, exuberant and quite raucous Vivace Ritmico. Elements of jazz and the mood of a lively party combine with repetitive rhythmic patterns, changing meters, playful exchanges and comic sounds. A traditional cadenza for the clarinet culminates with a short exchange between the clarinet and a siren in the percussion section before the movement rushes forward to the conclusion.

REVIEWS

"The first movement, "Prelude," is a very colorful movement, which begins with sustained soft strings and winds, interspersed with bells and chimes. The clarinet enters with ghostly passage work reminiscent of the Corigliano Concerto which grows to a Barber-esque expressive climax, then beyond, to a growling flutter-tongued note. It then recedes to the ghostly passages from the beginning of the movement. The movement fades away again into the distant mists with ethereally high clarinet notes matched against harmonics in the strings. I found myself tapping my foot continually to the rhythmic groove of the second movement, which is sometimes a jazz-inspired perpetual motion. A large color orchestra trades licks with the soloist in a carefully orchestrated manner that never buries the solo clarinet under the massive orchestral sound. A contrasting interlude, reminiscent of the first movement leads a short cadenza, which explores the extremes of the clarinet range, and a variety of pitch blends and glissandi. This is a well written and entertaining concerto. Stoltzman captures the color and moods of the piece beautifully, and the balance with the Seattle Symphony is well maintained throughout - a tribute to both the composer and the performers." - David Nietham, The Clarinet, 2001

"The concerto resembles some of Witold Lutoslawski's mature works in the way that the first movement prepares the way for the second. Brouwer, like the late Polish master, also is eager to explore unusual sounds and playing techniques. The Prelude, mysterious and disquieting, pushes the soloist to his limits. The extremes, however, are not introduced for shock value. Instead, they are well integrated into the whole. The succeeding movement, marked Vivace ritmico, is a whiz-bang finale, playful and even anarchic." - Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare Magazine, 2002

"Stoltzman took and exhilarating ride through Roanoke Symphony's Composer-in-Residence Margaret Brouwer's Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra. Having just recorded the work with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony, Stoltzman had it literally at his fingertips. A gauzy, gossamer first movement was the prelude to a rhythmically vigorous second, with difficult high-register passages and some good-humored screeches on the mouthpiece alone in the cadenza." - Seth Williamson, The Roanoke Times, 1997