Duration – 10:52
A) Rhapsody for Clarinet, String Orchestra and Percussion (2004)
B) Rhapsody for Clarinet and Piano (piano part by Chris Meyer and Ronald Royer)
The Rhapsody for Clarinet and String Orchestra was created to showcase various musical and technical features of a solo clarinet while being supported by a string orchestra and percussion. I chose the form of a rhapsody because I felt it would give me the ability to show off the clarinet’s flexibility while also allowing me to have some fun composing a piece with a variety of musical styles and moods.
In the 19th-century, the rhapsody became a highly emotional and free musical form with large changes of moods connected to Hungarian or gypsy violin playing. The height of this trend can be found in the 19 Hungarian Rhapsodies of Liszt (1846-85). In the 20th-century, Bartok, Enescu and Ravel are some notable examples of European composers writing rhapsodies in this same trend. As well, it is important to note that Debussy wrote the wonderful Premiere Rhapsodie for clarinet and piano for the Paris Conservatoire in 1910 to feature the player’s technical ability for its end-of -year wind instrument examinations. In my Rhapsody, I have tried to pay tribute to this excellent collection of rhapsodies while also adding some other musical influences, including some rhapsodies by the Argentinean composer Alberto Ginastera.
In three continuous sections, the Rhapsody starts with a slow mysterious mood that introduces the main musical motives and melodies of the composition. Next, the tempo increases while the music becomes more tender and flowing, ending with solo clarinet cadenzas. The final section is a fast paced virtuoso rondo including Hungarian, Latin American and various other musical elements to complete the clarinetist’s musical workout.
Commissioning and First Performance
The Rhapsody was commissioned and first performed by clarinetist Jerome Summers accompanied by conductor Stephane LaForest and Orchestra London (Ontario, Canada) on November 2, 2005.