Clarinet Concerto

Francis Thorne

Rental
Performing Ensemble: Clarinet with Orchestra
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The Clarinet Concerto was composed in 1996-97 on commission from the Seattle Symphony with generous funding from Paul Underwood, vice chairman of Salomon Smith Barney. Maestro Gerard Schwarz wanted the world premiere to take place in the initial season of Benaroya Hall. David Diamond, my principal composition teacher and mentor, passed on to me that Christopher Sereque, principal clarinetist with the Symphony, was an extraordinary player. He also told me that Maestro Schwarz hoped the finale would be lively, loud, and would wind up with a flashy ending. I tried to comply.

Cast in three movements, the work should last around 23 minutes in performance. After an Andante introduction, the first movement proceeds Allegro, with a contrasting Andante in the middle section. The solo clarinet motif that opens this movement is worked and reworked throughout.

The slow movement, marked Adagietto, begins with two introductory phrases, after which the clarinet starts in the lower register, ascends to the higher register and retreats to the lower. The movement is in a traditional five-part song form, i.e., slow, faster, slow, faster, slow. The final Adagietto is preceded by a short cadenza for the soloist.

The finale, marked Presto, is mostly in a lively 6/8 meter, interrupted twice ? firstly for an Andante cantabile, later for a very short cadenza. The final section, as requested, winds up in the Presto 6/8, pushing even faster to the very end.

Stylistically, the entire concerto is tonally oriented, with long legato lines in the slow music and a hint of modern jazz in the faster sections. When I visited Seattle in 1997 [for performances of "Elegy for Orchestra"], Maestro Schwarz arranged for me to hear a clarinet-piano run-through at his home, a most unexpected and delightful treat, confirming Mr. Diamond?s appraisal of Mr. Sereque.

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned bythe Seattle Symphony with generous funding from Paul Underwood.
Composition Date 1996
Duration 23:30
Orchestration Solo Cl.; 2 2 2 2 - 2 2 0 0; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere June 3, 1999. Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz, conductor, Christopher Seregue, clarinet.