Weber to Tango
In 'Weber to Tango' we begin with one of the greatest and most prolific composers for the clarinet - Carl Maria von Weber. He wrote six compositions for the clarinet, the last being the Grand Duo Concertant, Op. 48 for clarinet and piano. The wonderful lyricism, passion and drama of opera are never far away in all of Weber's compositions for the clarinet. The Grand Duo opens in very grand style with Allegro con fuoco. There are some melodic lines along the way, but the driving eighth note rhythm that introduces the movement also asserts itself again at the end to bring the movement to a tumultuous close. The Andante con moto opens with an emotionally expressive melodic line which gives way to a very passionate exchange between the piano and clarinet, and ultimately recedes again to a serene ending. The final Allegro: Rondo gives both instruments ample opportunity to show virtuosity throughout, with the final running sextuplet passage for both instruments bringing the piece to a brilliant finish. Now we move on to a gem in the French repertoire for clarinet and piano, the Sonata, Op. 167 by Camille Saint-Saens. It is in four movements and begins with a soulful three part Allegretto. The melancholy and reflective theme in the opening is briefly interrupted by a faster, florid section, only to return for a tranquil ending. The Allegro animato is a short, lively scherzo with playful triplet runs. The third movement, Lento, begins with the clarinet in it's lowest register and uses that dark, rich color to paint a very somber mood. However, the second part of the movement uses the same material two octaves higher for a more ethereal effect. This segues into the final Molto allegro with it's dizzying passagework. At the end tranquility is restored with a return to the opening theme of the first movement, giving the sense of a journey completed. Canadian composer, Murray Adaskin, wrote the Vocalise No. 1 for unaccompanied clarinet in 1989. It has quiet and contemplative opening and closing sections that use the clarinet's low register for a haunting effect. These sections are separated by a more lively, active middle section that shows the clarinet's agility. With his conservative compositional style Murray Adaskin has created an accessible addition to the solo clarinet repertoire. Versatile British composer, Joseph Horovitz, wrote the Sonatina for clarinet and piano in 1981. It is written in a traditional three movement form and like most of Horovitz's recent compositions, the Sonatina is melodically and rhythmically very much influenced by jazz and other popular music. It is equally demanding for both players. Finally we arrive in Belgium for the last two pieces - Romance by Christa Steenhuyse-Vandevelde and Tango Tout Court by Dirk Brosse. Christa's compositional style is tonal, harmonious and melodic - wonderfully expressed in the tender Romance. Dirk Brosse is very prolific, with over 200 works recorded in more than 40 countries. The Tango Tout Court for clarinet and piano was written in 2000. The character is both sensuous and lighthearted with an obvious jazz influence.