Miniatures for Clarinet Quintet (Clarinet and String Quartet) (2005, rev. 2016), 13 minutes
Premiere by John Bruce Yeh, clarinetist of the Chicago Symphony, and The Maia Quartet Music in the Loft Chamber Music Series, November 19, 2005, Chicago, IL. Commissioned by Music in the Loft.
II. Light and Playful
III. Improvisation-Like . . . Twirling, with a Sense of Urgency
IV. A Piacere . . . Moderato e Semplice
I based my Miniatures for clarinet and string quartet on a folk song entitled “Love of Homeland,” reproduced below, from the Xinjiang province of Northwestern China. Elements of the folk song can be heard in each of the four movements, as I develop the melody in the first three movements and introduce it in full form in the last movement.
The first movement is gentle, and the folk song appears in a heavily ornamented form, weaving in and out of a floating atmosphere.
The second movement, “Light and Playful,” has intermittent staccato notes played by the string instruments, which also interact with the clarinet. The melodic line is modified so that only the opening motive from the folk song is present.
The third movement begins with an improvisational-sounding melody in the clarinet, initially featuring a reworking of the folk song with a more exotic scale, but then moves to a more urgent, twirling action in all the instruments.
The last movement most directly quotes the original folk song, with the sounds of a clarinet evoking the cries of a folksinger from the Chinese countryside and plucked strings, or pizzicato, creating a guitar-like accompaniment. The movement develops the folk song extensively and ends with a flourish that includes a clarinet glissando to one of the highest notes of the instrument’s range.
Recording with Çedille Records available on iTunes : Miniatures with Chicago Symphony clarinetist John Yeh and Maia Quartet (2007)Available for purchase at Bill Holab Music
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