Stefano Doglioni - bass clarinet
Rome, Italy, March 9, 2010.
Solo Electro-Acoustic performance with Bass Clarinet and Live Electronics
Michael Brough (composer): Sonata for Bass Clarinet and Piano in D flat Opus 25
Michael Brough (piano) Lucy Downer (bass clarinet). Filmed by Richard Carruthers at St John's Notting Hill on 23rd June 2011 as part of Music Chamber's concert series.
(1) First movement - "Lento cantando - poco marziale" (2) "'Trauermarsch' - Adagio" and (3) Finale - "Strepitoso - tranquillo liberale - Tempo I"
Notes by Brough: "This piece was written in 2009 for Lucy Downer following a chance encounter at the Royal Academy of Music where she was playing the bass clarinet in the evocative Fantasy-Quintet (for that instrument and string quartet) by York Bowen. It is in three movements, conventionally laid out as an extensive opening piece loosely in sonata form, based heavily on a twelve-note theme with two subsidiary motifs; a central monothematic adagio and a toccata-like finale. Writing for the bass clarinet has been a rewarding exercise in every sense: the immense range of the instrument from the bassoon’s low B flat to an upper limit fixed only by the discretion and skill of the player and its large dynamic range have been exciting to explore. The ability of the two instruments to exchange places (solo/accompaniment) was also satisfying. The first movement opens with the (bass) clarinet stating a motto theme using all twelve semitones (leaving the listener not knowing what style to expect) which in fact rapidly is repeated and underlain by romantic gestures by the piano. A short transition leads to a cadenza for the instrument which, in turn, leads to an important subsidiary idea with a martial feel to it, before the third main idea, in G flat major, provides a lengthy romantic interlude. During the subsequent extensive development of the opening twelve-note motto theme, the martial motif reappears in the home key of D flat and eventually the romantic third theme makes its second appearance before a brief coda. The second movement makes use of a long cantilena jotted down in 1868 in his diary (Das braune Buch”) by Richard Wagner, which he apparently intended as material for a piece on the subject of Romeo and Juliet, perhaps as a gloomy companion for the Siegfried Idyll; at any rate, Wagner failed to pursue the idea and the long tune seems to have been noted and forgotten ever since, perhaps because it was written in the key of A flat minor, which has been preserved as the key of the Sonata’s slow movement. A tolling bell note in the piano and brief preparatory phrase leads to Wagner’s theme which is then expanded and developed quite passionately before being restated in the major key, bringing a romantic climax, although the doom-laden bell feature appears again before a final close with the piano decorating the theme, once again in A flat minor. After a series of descending flourishes for both instruments, the finale starts properly in F minor with a pounding version of the sonata’s twelve-note motto theme providing the context for some fairly virtuoso work for both instruments. This leads, eventually, to a still centre for the movement in which a new tune appears like a hymn, reaching individual cadences decorated by final arpeggios for the piano and, in turn, to a second half of the central interlude introducing an emphatic repeated note idea which reaches its own climax in E flat major, dying away and coming to a stop before the toccata restarts. To accommodate a substantial cadenza for the bass clarinet, itself based on the motto theme, the toccata itself is then somewhat abbreviated, and leads to a coda involving a final climax combining the martial theme with the interlude’s repeated note section, all in the home key, in which the sonata ends quietly."
This piece was performed on a faculty recital at the University of Delaware on March 1, 2011 in Gore Recital Hall.