About this work:
Eclogue for solo clarinet is the longest of several short pieces for solo instruments that I have been composing since 1972. Though just under five minutes long, it is, because of the relationship of its parts and the breadth of the statement which it attempts to make, comparable in scale to forms like the sonata, which is almost always greater in length. Eschewing any of the new modes of playing the clarinet developed since World War II, it nevertheless requires that its performer be in accord with the spirit of contemporary
musical thought while possessing a mastery of traditional techniques.
The musical materials for Eclogue were suggested by those attributes of the clarinet which especially distinguish it from all other instruments, certain characteristic attacks in high registers, for example, or the comparative ease with which it can "arpeggiate" through two or more distinctive registers, its uncanny ability to control the softest dynamic levels, to name but a few. The form of Eclogue might be heard as the expression of the coexisting, often conflicting, character traits that inhere in all of us, while the performer might be viewed as an actor portraying some of these traits in this piece. Eclogue consists
of four principal sections of which two are slow with supple, fluent rhythms, and two are fast, at times ironic, at other times perhaps even effusive, but at all times self-assured. The two slow sections are notably related in thematic content and treatment, the two fast sections only superficially so.
If Eclogue is a kind of monologue, there is the suggestion at its conclusion that there may be still more than what we have been allowed to hear and that the characterization that we have heard till now could resume at any moment.
Composed in 1979, Eclogue was first performed by Edward Gilmore at Queens College of the City University of New York on April 23, 1982. A recording by Mr. Gilmore appears on the Centaur Records label (CRC 2079).
Reviews: "The new music consortium Earplay came up with a good one to open its third season...: Look ma! no machines, nothing plugged in.
"The program gave a handsome idea of the life and endless possibilities still available in music written by hand on five line staves and played on regular instruments.
"There was even a piece for real clarinet unaccompanied, that gave its adroit performer, Peter Josheff, the chance to explore personalities—the instrument's, his own and that of the composition.
"No trick effects called attention to themselves. Staying with the clarinet's traditional playing style, "Eclogue" (1979) by Allen Brings, a professor at Queens College, New York, offered fresh and expressive music in four short 'verses.' These were slow and lyrical, flighty, dreaming, and whimsical."
Robert Commanday, 1987
"Eclogue is a very pleasant pastorale for unaccompanied clarinet. Although it is unmetered, the beat is steady. While the technical demands are not extensive, the performer must be agile with arpeggio passages to a-flat3. The work was composed in 1979 and is a good addition to the unaccompanied repertoire."
The Clarinet, spring, 1987
Version: solo clarinet
Year composed: 1979
Ensemble type: Solo instrument, non-keyboard:Clarinet
Instrumentation: 1 Clarinet