Concerto for Clarinet No.2


by Malcolm Arnold

clarinet and orchestra
Solo Instruments with Orchestra
1.picc.2.0.2 - 2000 - timp(=perc): BD/SD/wdbl/c.bell/susp.cym - strings
First Performance
17.8.74, Red Rock Music Festival, USA: Denver Symphony Orchestra/Priestman/Benny Goodman

Score 0-571-50797-2, piano reduction and solo part 0-571-50622-4, Cadenza (Thea King/Christopher Palmer) 0-571-56073-3 (fp) on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Arnold’s Clarinet Concert no 2 celebrates not just an old friendship, but several other key threads in Arnold’s life as well. It was written in 1974 for Benny Goodman, and the composer was thus able to celebrate both his lifelong love of jazz – the finale is headed ‘The Pre-Goodman Rag’ and is an outrageous opportunity for all concerned to let their musical hair down! – and also his lifelong affection for the freewheeling spirit of America. His many film scores often brought him close to the world of Hollywood, during the Golden Age of the movies. Before this homage to Goodman the jazz musician, the other two movements are more restrained, and in fact the first of them contrasts a diatonic tune with another, more chromatic theme that just happens to cover all twelve notes of the chromatic scale. And in a fine and trusting ‘gesture of friendship’, Malcolm tells Benny near the end to ‘improvise cadenza, as jazzy and way out as you please, based on the Concerto’s themes’. The lyricism of the central slow movement is more angular, less obvious than the Arnold of thirty years earlier – a reminder that at this point in his life he was, as he perhaps sensed, approaching something of a creative crisis. © 1993 Piers Burton-Page Please contact Piers Burton-Page for permission to use this.

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