Duo concertante : for clarinet, viola and strings
by Stephen Cronin (1986)
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Library shelf no. Q 784.71862/CRO 1 [Available for loan]
Stephen Cronin completed his Duo Concertante for clarinet, viola and strings in January 1986 at the end of a short sojurn in England. Like a number of other Australian composers who have spent time in the UK, Cronin found it difficult to adapt to the English lifestyle and culture. This unease was reflected in the difficulty the composer felt while trying to write his Duo Concertante. To overcome this non-productivity Cronin chose a model, Bartok's Divertimento for Strings, as a point of departure and to help find inspiration for his own work.
The Duo Concertante is in three movements and follows a traditional fast-slow-fast structure. Cronin describes the work as unashamedly Neoclassic.
The first movement consists of a number of episodes or variations which explore various combinations of the thematic material. Two repetitive cadenzas appear; the first for clarinet and the second for both soloists.
The second movement, commencing with a slow folk-like melody for the clarinet alone, is characterised by an ominous churning string figure which accompanies a rhapsodic duet for the soloists. The movement builds three times to impassioned outbursts from the clarinet until finally the original melody returns accompanied by the ominous churning played by the solo violist.
Nervous energy pervades the third movement. Unified by a repeated-note figure which is first introduced by the viola and typical Bartokian quartal harmony, the movement features a central fugato which draws together disparate elements and heads inexorably (although not without interruption) to the final close.
Instrumentation: Solo clarinet, solo viola, string orchestra.
Duration: 16 min.
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