The Clarinet Concerto was commissioned and composed for clarinetist Henry Miyamura. Scored for clarinet and symphonic band the work is cast into three movements performed without pause and can be considered a concerto in a one arch-form movement. It begins with an energetic introduction of the main 4 pitch melodic motive G,D,C F followed by the heralding of the second theme in the horns. With a quick return to the original motive, the soloist enters in a series of ritornello-like episodes with other instrumental solos, creating a quasi “concerto” group, interrupted with melodic fragments interjected by the whole tutti force.
From the start, the first movement explores tonal areas based on pitches of a given fragment of the motive, that being: G,D,C,F,E,B,Bb,Eb and Ab. Ab being the final pitch of the motive, it is also the climax of movement and announces the cadenza. The cadenza segues into the second movement; in the symphonic character it is a combined adagio and scherzo that begins with flourishing figures in the upper woodwinds. Passages between solo clarinet and other solo instruments weave between the introduction of a 16th note motive in the brass leading to a tutti build up and the reprisal of the second theme in tragic sonorities. The solo clarinet reappears with sections of lyricism and episodes of more erratic flourishes and sporadic filigree. This leads to a second build up and crescendo into the third movement. Where the first movement explored key areas of the motive, the third explores the retrograde.
After a violent silence, the clarinet duels with the percussion section in a series of figural exchanges between a solo trumpet. The full band violently enters followed by an erratic solo trio with piccolo and flute leading up to the third movements theme in the upper winds. The clarinet re-enters reiterating the theme in counterpoint with melodic material of the first movement. A fugato section is prompted first with solo instruments and finally with complete sections of the band. After a series of solo passages and tutti interjections, the reprisal of the first motive in horns heralds the retrograde appears of materials from the first movement leading to a mass build up and crescendo into the third and final reprisal of the second theme, glorified by the full ensemble. The clarinet reappears, this time hovering above a retrained harmony in the brass and ends the tonal tension with sounding of C major. The full band gradually re-enters leading to a stark climax where the motives of the second movement are sounded above jabbing chords of the lower brass. Violent chords herald the coda and the final burst to end.
Awarded 2010 BMI Composer Award
Solo Clarinet & Concert Band
April 19, 2010
Henry Miyamura (Clarinet)
University of Hawaii Wind Ensemble
Conducted by Grant Okamura