Sunday, April 03, 2005

concerto for clarinet and orchestra "landscapes with blues", by Stephen Hartke

This piece was commissioned for Richard Stoltzman and the IRIS Chamber Orchestra (based in Germantown, TN) in 2001. There are three movements (Senegambia, Delta Nights, and Philamayork)
Senegambia starts out with very accented strings and piano, then the string bass jumps into this five beat repeated pattern while the strings, and winds have their own melodic lines going on in each of the sections. Everything is very loud The bass clarinets have this very cool swinging melodic line underneath. The clarinet solo uses every register, and it seems to be everywhere-very high, wailing notes, then sweeps down low-it sounds very improvisatory. call and response is used in the chorus between the clarinet and the winds. It's very repetitive and uses various rhythms This is the entire a section, and it doesn't really seem to have a very clear phrase structure-very sectional. after about three minutes everything seems to taper off along with the clarinet, and it suddenly the strings have this gorgeous sweeping melody, and it sounds more like an orchestra. the bass still has the five note line. It tapers off again at the end, withsome reminders of the a section (most rhythm)
The beginning of Delta Nights brings out a lot imagery-fireflies chasing each other on a hot summer night, birds swooping around, sunsets-it's very cool. The strings have a repetitive "ti do" motive every so often. The clarinet uses various ways of getting a bluesy sound-various trills, often manipulating some notes by swooping down. It's cool that Stoltzman uses vibrato when he plays anyway, because it really adds to the blues sound. This is the longest movement, and it switches moods throughout the whole thing. There's an unexpected harmonica solo in the middle of this. the string motive is always recurring, which helps keep you focused. The ending is interesting because the a section reappears, but it is backwards, so the ending is the same as the beginning.
Philamayork is kind of written like a medley, and is very dance like. The bass clarinet line has a very cool running eighth note pattern- you hear a lot more of the harp in this part too. there is kind of a building up filled with cymbal crashes, and it's pretty exciting. The mood changes suddenly after that, and has a very orchestral sound. It finishes with of course, a showstopper of an ending, using a lot of brass and percussion-stoltzman is going crazy, playing arpeggiations from the highest to lowest register. It has kind of an unexpected ending, however, and I feel like there should be more to the end-i'm not really sure if i want it to be over yet

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