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Topic: Clarinet Quintet

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  1. #1
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    Clarinet Quintet

    Hi All,
    I'm posting just three movements of this (out of an eventual four) because the pixies are panicking! Apparently, they visited me earlier in the year and dropped in a "topical reference" to one of their musical heroes, who has celebrated a significant anniversary this year. They are therefore insisting that I post before the end of the year (apparently with dire consequences if I don't ...).
    I shoulld mention that I'm more "enthusiast" than "real composer". I've been writing "bitsa" tunes for years for my own amusement and finally decided this year to have a go at real mockups (by buying into the GPO experience back in January and upgrading various software and hardware). The current net result is this, my first attempt at symphonic writing and my first composition (if that's what it is?) to "hit the air waves".
    Anyway, on with the show (better keep the pixies happy ...)

    Quintet for Clarinet and Strings
    Movements so far written are:
    1. Allegro moderato
    2. Canzona: Andante tranquillo
    3. Scherzo: Vivace

    I hope that the playback reaches you as it leaves me and that it's an enjoyable experience! Feedback is of course welcome.

    Ouch! I've suddenly realised what day it is! Since I won't be getting back here until tomorrow morning I'd just like to take this opportunity to wish one and all a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and ever growing success for the coming decade.

    Best regards,
    Keith


  2. #2

    Re: Clarinet Quintet

    I've just listened to the first movement, and I have to say that it's pretty good. It is pure music (although not symphonic, this is usually called chamber music), and can stand on itself pretty well. Although the relation between the themes at the start and end escape me, the themes complement each other well and the arrangement is pleasant. The music as a whole is slightly quirky, jumpy, and jovial, with a bit of sarcasm, if that can be said of music. I was reminded of Prokoviev's piano work, but I didn't get the topical reference (a Haydn quartet perhaps?).

    Anyway, good work, and part 1 certainly deserves the name composition.
    Theo

  3. #3

    Re: Clarinet Quintet

    Interesting piece. The musical style is tripartite... the 1st movement having a great deal akin to the music of Prokovievv as FLW mentionned. Do be careful, however.. I heard a few minor instances of unisons between the soprano and the bass that were a bit jarring.

    The adagio has a touch of Copland to it. (and a sprinkle of LotR?)
    I'd might suggest a bit of care with how your phrases are connected. There are moments where the junctures between phrases are a bit too square. The effect can easily give a stop-and-go feel to your piece. I imagine that isn't your goal with the adagio.

    The Scherzo has an interesting mix of Americana (à la Reich) with that jaunty "almost Irish jig" material. It's a clever juxtaposition.

    Structurally, I'd suggest inverting the 2nd and 3rd movements... with the Scherzo in 2nd place, and the adagio coming right before your finale.
    In the long run, I think you will be more satisfied with that order, and your finale will feel that much more satisfying for the audience as well.

  4. #4
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    Re: Clarinet Quintet

    Hi Theo,

    Thank you for listening and for your kind comments.
    Apologies, firstly, for my rather clumsy nomenclature. I have actually tagged the mp3 files with the genre "Chamber Music" but - with the word "symphonic" - my intention was to summarize the structural elements of the work as a whole - namely, a first movement in "sonata form" (in quotes here because I'm not sure whether or not I achieved it...) and two movements in ABACABA. After reading your comment, and various definitions of the word elsewhere, I recognise that my attempt to apply logic to English semantics was (as usual) misguided and I stand corrected! The structure that I'm considering for the last movment, incidentally, is that of a theme and variations.

    I have to admit ( somewhat sheepishly) that the two themes in the exposition are not related, except in their relative tonalities of Tonic and Dominant - my only real reason for using the current secondary theme was that it "seemed to fit". The theme immediately before the development fugato, however, is an extension of the viola "lead-in" to it, which is itself a retrograde of the first two bars of the secondary theme. ( Now I've confused myself!)

    I find your description of the first movement's mood to be very appropriate and not unfamilar ( okay, so I'm not yet sufficiently overweight to be called "jovial", but give it a few years !!!). I suspect, also, that there is more than a hint of Prokofiev, particularly in the busier string passages. This was not a conscious allusion on my part, but I have no doubt that his style probably insinuated itself as a subconcious template for those passages through its familiarity.

    Finally, I suspect the reason that the "topical reference" has so far eluded you is that, sadly, the pixies did not get involved in the composition until much later in the writing process!
    Thank you again for your time and kindness.
    Best regards,

    Keith

  5. #5
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    Re: Clarinet Quintet

    Hi Michel,

    Many thanks for taking the time to listen and for your considered and timely advice. I hope the listen wasn't too injurious an experience!

    I think your advice on the first two movements can best be summed up by the word "care". There are, I suspect, a number of occasions in the piece as a whole where I have "lost the plot" because of untimely interruptions (rushing to complete a phrase before the onset of sleep, meals, work or the like), been careless through inexperience in the medium (also contributing to the first excuse) or gotten plain "stuck" and fudged a counterpoint or harmony! Having said that, there is also the less worthy fact that there were a number of occassions when I was over-eager to get the movements into last year's "new toy", the sequencer (Noteworthy Composer can be a bit "plain vanilla" sometimes and I'm a self-confessed software gadget freak!). "Wishful hearing" has also been, undoubtedly, a problem in this respect. I will of course endeavour to review the existing movements and "fix" the problems before adding the Finale and posting the full work - though I think that I may need to give my ears some respite from the piece before being able do so effectively. Thank you for enlightening me on this.

    The mix of influences you suggest is, I must confess, something of a revelation! As I mentioned to FLW, above, I am not particularly surprised at the Prokofiev reference, given the "busy" nature of the string writing in places and the fact that I must have heard the "Classical" Symphony and other symphonies a considerable number of times over 50 years of listening to music (though, sadly, not the solo piano works). I know little, however, of the Copland repertoire (but then I have been exposed in recent years to more modern American composers - perhaps an indirect contact?). Steve Reich's work is also something with which I'm not consciously familiar although - curiously - I bought a CD (as yet unplayed) less than a month ago that features one of his works! Please understand, I am not at all displeased that these influences are apparent (indeed, I'm very pleased to have some "connection" to any composers more recent than the nineteenth century!) - I'm just marvelling at where they could have come from! Perhaps I've absorbed more over the years than I realised?

    I called the slow movement a Canzona because the A and B themes were written originally as the verse and chorus, respectively, for a song setting I wrote about 20 years ago to a female vocalist's lyrics. Sadly, we parted company shortly afterwards and she never heard the setting, but I still regarded it as a song (despite the addition of the C theme). On reflection, I can see that your titling of "Adagio" is actually much more appropriate to the mood of the piece.

    Your structural suggestion has really hit the nail on the head! The principal reason that I ordered the movements as I did was convention, pure and simple. I researched the genre just before I started the piece and followed the "status quo" (not the ones with OBEs...), partly through lack of confidence and partly because I didn't know which way the piece was going to "jump" anyway. Your suggestion not only puts things in the right order, it may well help to complete the work faster! For some time, I have had a dilemma over how to start the Finale, the theme and variations being contained in sketches all over the project folder. The main problem has been that the theme itself wasn't sufficiently strong or "declamatory" to follow on from the Scherzo. With the movements in this new order, I can adjust the Adagiio's conclusion such that the Finale theme can follow on effectively! It's a simple solution, but one that I probablty wouldn't have seen without feedback, so thank you for that also.

    Finally, thank you again for your time and patience ( including that required to read this lot - lol!)

    Best regards,

    Keith

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