During winter break 2018-2019, I found myself needing to write two sonatas - one for Ab clarinet and one for contrabass clarinet. Since these instruments serve at the opposite ends of the clarinet family, it seemed that the pieces themselves should reflect each other in some way.
On a more obvious level, the opening five bars of each clarinet part are inverted (both starting from C4). On a more conceptual level, this sonata is inspired by popular music of the 1900s moving forwards through the decades (1930s-1960s) while the Ab sonata is inspired by popular dances of the 1500s moving back through the decades (1560s-1530s). It should also be noted that no deep research went into the background for this piece - it is simply an expression of qualities I have internalised from each of these popular styles rather than an attempt at authentic recreation.
The piece was premiered by Joe Clark, contrabass clarinet and Long-Tao (Pierre) Tang, piano on May 5, 2019 at the recital Alternatives VII: Into the Depths at the Community United Church of Christ in Champaign, IL.