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Work

Gerald Finzi

Gerald Finzi Composer

Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra in C-, Op.31   

Performances: 12
Tracks: 32
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Musicology:
  • Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra in C-, Op.31
    Key: C-
    Year: 1948-49
    Genre: Concerto
    Pr. Instrument: Clarinet
    • 1.Allegro vigoroso. L'istesso tempo ma in modo lirico
    • 2.Adagio ma senza rigore
    • 3.Rondo: Allegro giocoso
Finzi was to some degree an intractable character, but this was only sporadically evident in his music, which tended to be extremely lyrical and audience-friendly. Perhaps the true balance of his personality is reflected in his Clarinet Concerto, which gives the soloist generous melodies with which to seduce a sometimes obdurate orchestral accompaniment. Finzi wrote the work for the 1949 Three Choirs Festival, and conducted its first performance (with soloist Frederick Thurston).

The first movement, Allegro vigoroso, launches with a stern orchestral opening answered with surprising softness by the clarinet. The soloist plays the same meandering theme, but now it seems more searching than declamatory. All the movement's thematic material springs from this line; during the soloist's few rests the string orchestra is inclined to vigorous outbursts, but it provides restrained support as the clarinet explores the music's more gently expressive possibilities. The soloists adopts the orchestra's dry vehemence only during and immediately after a brief cadenza near the movement's end.

The Adagio (marked "ma senza rigore," hinting at a much freer style than before), is introduced by the strings, high and grave, soon echoed by the clarinet in a high register. The strings establish an atmosphere of both tenderness and nobility, rather in the style of a slow movement by Fauré, while the clarinet rhapsodizes freely. The movement proceeds as an increasingly ornamented meditation for the clarinet, the music's character hardly changing save for a small climax just past the halfway point.

Breaking the mood is the concluding Rondo (Allegro giocoso), which revolves around a quick, good-natured and innocent tune. The intervening episodes are initially more pensive, with one downward-gliding theme again recalling Fauré; later they become more playful, and except for a late reference to the first movement, this is happy music that never quite approaches the elusive extreme of pure joy until the final few measures.

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