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Sonata for Contra-Alto Clarinet and Piano, Op. 78 (2017)

Live Performance:

Joe Clark, contra-alto clarinet; Evan Ritter, piano

Duration: 16'

  1. I. Allegro
  2. II. Andante
  3. III. Allegro vivace

Program Notes:

Following my senior recital, Evan Ritter and I particularly fell in love with the sound of the contra-alto clarinet. After we gave an alto clarinet recital in the fall of 2016, it seemed appropriate to next plan a contra-alto clarinet recital. Of course, there is even less music published for contra-alto even than alto, so once more I decided to write my own sonata.

While very self-consciously neoclassical in form (sonata-allegro form first movement, ABA second movement, rondo third movement), each movement explores a different technique for jumping around to distantly-related keys. The first makes use of an enharmonic reinterpretation between dominant sevenths and German augmented sixths. The second makes use of ambiguous keyality in its A sections (precariously straddling Ab major and f minor) and explores "hexatonic poles" (e.g., Ab major to e minor, where all three voices move by half-step) in its B section. The third reinterprets diminished sevenths in a rather willy-nilly fashion.

For one more level of fun, there aren't really any unambiguous eight-bar phrases in the entire piece.