Concerto for Clarinet and Strings


The orchestration of a sonata always means an enlargement; in this case in the most modest form for strings. Modest, but for the soloist of a wind-instrument very satisfying, for there is no "rivalry" to be feared from orchestra winds. Yet, this spreading of a piano text into five string parts – even though it closely follows the original – means a "socialization" and, in combination with a natural increase in volume, a more substantial counterpart to the clarinet, which no longer has "only" equal rights in a duo but now is a soloist set against a group. And so the over-all impression of this composition becomes more dramatic, "greater", and thus more "festive".

This is also true for a performance as a sextet, which you can listen to here. This festive character was intended, for this version was made to entertain our guests during the celebration of the 60th birthday of my wife and me.

The photograph of the two of us, which is displayed here, was made on that occasion.

Andante sostenuto

This slow movement is again a faithful rendering of the original. When performed it is essential that the celli (the cellist) give a very pronounced rendering of their part, which must be understood as quasi solistical for it alone is the structural counterpart of the soloist.

Bars 9 to 11 contain a slight enrichment, where we have a sort of dispute in the turn-motive between clarinet and 1st violin, which ends in "consiliatory" sixths.

Finale Vivace

The third movement with its A:B:A‘-structure was substantially enlarged by some counterpunctual features and through the insertion of the B-middle-section, headed "amabile" . It was meant as a hommage to my wife. In mediant F-major its subject rises twice diatonically from the lower fourth to the key-note. The line suggests the harmonization as a dominant, but instead is harmonized as a 2nd-root inversion of the tonic which gives it an „instable“ character, only to be "fulfilled" at the end of its second upward movement as of dominant charcter.

Such a "veiled" harmonization continues throughout this amabile and gives it a sweet, longing atmosphere. The most "personal" part is the second half of this hommage, when the clarinet and – now only – one solo-violin embrace each other in long figurations.

The transition to the reprise (A‘) is introduced with the inital trill-motive for all instruments, which is quite tricky to execute.

In the newly added coda, the clarinet "plunges" from that waltz-like hight D-major into its low register and begins a staccato ostinato, at first solistically provoking the strings, which hesitatingly answer first in pizzicatos, then in arco-staccati and finally in syncopated forte triads and so force the clarinet through a unisono variant of the main subject into a chromatic rise in trills.

Again, the clarinet plunges, solo, only to rise again in a dramatic chromatic scale from a subito piano to a forte , thus forcing the strings into a final trill ... then follows a dramatic general rest ... and all unite in a triumphant final appogiatura; which will hopefully lead to some lively applause.

Hartwig Riedl

Concerto for Clarinet and Strings - Audio

I Allegro

II Andante sostenuto

III Finale Vivace

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