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News - Previn and the Clarinet

Tuesday, November 01, 2011
A spectacular gala concert at Boston's Symphony Hall on November 14 featured the world premiere of André Previn's new Clarinet Quintet and the U.S. premiere of his Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. The Terezin Music Foundation commissioned the Quintet specifically for the gala to celebrate their twentieth anniversary. TMF director Mark Ludwig called it "an exciting and significant addition to the chamber music repertoire and a homage to the spirit of our mission." Members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Garrick Ohlsson joined Previn in the performance.

Thomas Martin, Associate Principal clarinetist of the orchestra, commissioned the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano and premiered the work at the Prague Spring International Music Festival in May 2010. It is a beautifully-balanced and playful work in which Previn masterfully contrasts the two different instruments. The rhythmic material of the polytonal accompaniment provides layers of counterpoint to the brisk and lively melodic lines of the clarinet. Breaking from traditional form Previn included an interlude between the second and third movements in which "the clarinet never plays anything but the same bars over and over and over — only the accompaniment changes. I have no idea what that's going to sound like, but Thomas Martin loves it!" Here, Previn reveals another aspect of his success: his personal connection to the performers of his music. In this case his admiration for the clarinetist serves not only as an impetus for composition, but for the dynamic personality evident in the music itself.

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