June 30 2011
David Shifrin, clarinet
Chamber Music Northwest
Reed College, Portland, OR
The clarinet quintet is in four movements. The first movement opens with a dramatic presentation of the generating motivic and harmonic elements of the entire piece. After building slowly to a climactic peak the music softens and morphs into a gentler lyric section which then transforms into a scherzo. The scherzo ends the first movement with a sense of propulsion.
The second movement takes advantage of the forward momentum generated by the scherzo to present itself as a very slow, lyrical exploration of the lyricism hinted at in the first movement. This movement is followed by a very brief Interlude which serves to prepare the forward thrust of the last movement.
The fourth movement begins with a reminiscence of the opening of the entire piece, now more condensed and dramatically moving forward. This bursts into a propulsive cello passage which serves as a pseudo rondo theme. This passage reappears three times with growing embellishment and alternates with rhythmically contrasting but always forward moving sections until it reaches a culminating coda with all the instruments in unison.
The piece is extremely virtuosic instrumentally as well as in its ensemble writing and makes great emotional demands on all the players.