The Clarinet Quintet “Turning Points” was co-commissioned by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the following members of the Wisconsin Presenter’s Network: The Artists Series at the Pabst, Milwaukee; Lawrence University Artists Series, Appleton; and the Wisconsin Union Theater, Madison.
Turning Points is dedicated to The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s artistic director, David Shifrin. In this 15-minute work, the opening clarinet solo introduces the main thematic material for the whole of this one movement piece. There are four distinct melodic ideas which form the basis of the piece. The first idea is a long held note which, after a crescendo, briefly touches the notes above and below and returns to itself. This idea is dramatic yet “held” in place. The second idea ascends slowly and quietly. The third is a consonant short arpeggiation that rises, rests, and falls. Although this has the effect of an interlude, it later becomes the basis for a larger section. (For those of you who like Bartók, you might recognize this from his “Contrasts.” I never have been able to shed this particular motive!) The fourth theme is another “held” motive, this time a wide interval (a tenth) that is slow and dolce. It appears at the end of the solo when the quartet quietly comes in, picking up the final notes of the clarinet solo. These four ideas are developed and transformed throughout the piece taking on recognizable but different identities as they interact more and more with each other.