About this work:
It may well be that my lifelong experience as a pianist has predisposed me to write for more homogeneous instrumental ensemblesþeven, as more recently, to supplying music for such
underutilized combinations as clarinet quartet, flute quartet, and double bass trio. However correct this assumption may be, the invitation which I received from Max Lifchitz of North/South
Consonance in 1983 to write a piece for clarinet, cello and piano, a particularly heterogeneous ensemble, presented me with some special challenges but, above all, with an opportunity to redefine, and so to expand, the many stylistic characteristics that I had developed during three decades of composing. The trio which emerged the following year solved the most apparent dilemma by employing thematic ideas which are not only idiomatic for all three instruments but which also sound distinctly different when played by each as if each were speaking the same language but speaking it with a different regional accent.
Although the final "chords" of the three movements of the trio contain common elementsþmuch as the final chords of movements written during the 18th and 19th centuries contained at least one tone of the tonic triadþand although certain traits of the first movement seem to invade the end of the third movement, each of the movements is separate and distinct in both thematic content and procedure. The first and shortest movement is characterized by a swift, continuous motion that flows uninterruptedly until the end. It is based on two contrasting ideas, the first, a sustained line of wide skips heard above the kind of light, running counterpoint with which the movement begins, the second, a more agitated idea distinguished by its sharp accents and abrupt syncopations the motivic source for which is presented by both the clarinet and cello as early as in the fifth measure. The formal plan of the movement combines the principles of ternary form with aspects of sonata-allegro form.
The second movement, also in ternary form, tends toward meditative statements and flexible tempi, all of which, however, center on the tense, impassioned climax of the middle section. The third movement begins with a brief two-measure introduction by the piano followed by the entrance of a lively theme based on ascending thirds by the clarinet immediately imitated in stretto by the cello. A thorough and vigorous working out of this theme with much contrapuntal interplay among the three instruments is succeeded by a slow middle section that is rather improvisatory in style. An acceleration of several measures by the clarinet leads to a restatement of the principal theme of the movement, treated, if that were possible, even more dynamically than before. This heightened activity leads directly without further relief to the trio's forceful conclusion.
The first performance of the trio was given at Queens College of the City University of New York on October 27, 1986, by Edward Gilmore, Alexander Kouguell and Genevieve Chinn, who also recorded the work for Centaur Records (CRC 2079).
Score and parts available from Mira Music Associates. Contact: email@example.com
Version: for clarinet, cello & piano
Year composed: 1984
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 2-5 players
Instrumentation: 1 Clarinet, 1 Piano, 1 Cello