Clarinet Quintet (1992)
Programme Note When accepting to write a clarinet quintet I first felt scared of the classical ballast of such an ensemble.
With the quintets of Mozart and Brahms in mind I felt powerless to imagine any music for this constellation. This turned out to be an interesting paradox during the working process. The fact that the music couldn’t be identified by combining unusual instruments together (all these “contemporary music ensemble” pieces) forced me to almost forget the ensemble when starting to write the piece.
This is of course not entirely true, because during many years I have been working a lot with the clarinet in collaboration with my very good friend Kari Kriikku; I tried some compositional ideas based on just a line for clarinet ornamented with the string instruments.
Another starting point was the influence of “Steamboat Bill Jr.” a piece for clarinet and violoncello written some years earlier; I made some sketches for clarinet and violoncello “accompanied” by the 2 violins and the alto.
My favourite instrument is the orchestra, so I tried to imitate the “tutti” feeling of an orchestral texture scaled to the size of a clarinet quintet.
Despite of its rather extended duration (almost 20 minutes) the work is in one continuous movement. Sections are based on either a static material composed of different scales giving the music an “insect like” appereance, or on directional processes forcing the music to gradually change character or even physically pushing the music to extreme registers or speed.
The piece was commissioned by Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival and will be first performed by Kari Kriikku and the Jean Sibelius Quartet in Kuhmo on July 16, 1992.
Magnus Lindberg Helsinki 1 July