Violin I part from Rhapsody for Clarinet & String Quartet in B Flat Major Op.40

page one of the Violin I part from Rhapsody for Clarinet & String Quartet  in B Flat Major Op.40

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©Programme Notes

RHAPSODY for CLARINET & STRING QUARTET In B flat major Op. 40

Gerald Manning

In modern musical usage the Rhapsody is described as a composition usually based upon popular melodies or original themes in one continuous movement which however can be further developed into three subsidiary episodes emulating ternary form: in the original Greek meaning the term referred to the recitation of portions of an epic poem. In the works of Liszt, Lalo, Dvořák and others it is a form of instrumental fantasia generally employing popular, folk or national themes. In the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries the rhapsodies of composers such as Stanford, Vaughan Williams, Delius, Rachmaninov, George Gershwin who used the term for his “Rhapsody in Blue” and Chabrier’s Espaňa the genre finds a modern survival.

Consequently this composition is in one continuous movement, which is then divided into three subsidiary episodes, or movements. The exposition opens with the main theme which is an eight bar motif voiced in the first violin. At the end of the eight bar on the last beat of the bar the solo clarinet enters at the same octave and in the home key and repeats the opening theme while the first violin and cello accompany the clarinet weaving arabesques in the harmonic structure. The second subject in the relative key of G minor is reached in bar 17 and stated by the solo clarinet, and is repeated again in the same key and octave at bar 25 by the first violin which is accompanied by the clarinet and the lower string voices. A tempo change at bar 33 heralds the start of the development section in a slower Meno Mosso ascending arpeggio fragment introduced by the clarinet which is mirrored by the second violin in the latter part of the bar and then forms the basic of a episodic duet between clarinet and first violin. The third element in the development section occurs in bar 49 when a return to the home key is reached and the clarinet announces a variation of the arpeggio fragment, which is then developed as a duet between viola and cello in bar 57. In bar 65 the solo clarinet in true rhapsodic virtuosity, which lends itself to further development in the motifs, discussed above until a rallentando in bar 85 returns the music to the home key and tempo in the recapitulation which occurs in bar 87. A coda closes this first section and prepares the ensuing second section. This D minor Adagio in my sincere humility is one of my finer creations. Song like in character it reflects and meditates on the ills of the world which encompass the evils of war, the blight of starvation and sickness, cruelty and greed and all manner of “mans injustice to man”. The plaintive voice of the solo clarinet carries the main argument “like a lone voice crying in the wilderness” with interjections from the other voices reflecting on the sad anthem of the broken spirit. The attacca into the third section disperses the melancholy as the key returns to the major home key in a compound duple metronome time, which personifies a jocular rondo format. The clarinet introduces the main theme followed in bar 165 by the first violin and the music is developed until the second subject on the clarinet is reached in a Meno Mosso at bar 189 which is repeated staccato in bar 197 by the violin with the development of this material occurring in bar 205 alternating between the legato phrases of the clarinet and the staccato phrases of the violin. In the middle of this development section at bar 221 the music becomes subdued with the lowering of the dynamic to piano and this is now worked through a range of keys until the return of the recapitulation of the opening rondo theme at bar 263 which is followed by the coda at bar 279 which closes the work. Consequently this composition is in one continuous movement, which is then divided into three subsidiary episodes, or movements. The exposition opens with the main theme which is an eight bar motif voiced in the first violin. At the end of the eight bar on the last beat of the bar the solo clarinet enters at the same octave and in the home key and repeats the opening theme while the first violin and cello accompany the clarinet weaving arabesques in the harmonic structure. The second subject in the relative key of G minor is reached in bar 17 and stated by the solo clarinet, and is repeated again in the same key and octave at bar 25 by the first violin which is accompanied by the clarinet and the lower string voices. A tempo change at bar 33 heralds the start of the development section in a slower Meno Mosso ascending arpeggio fragment introduced by the clarinet which is mirrored by the second violin in the latter part of the bar and then forms the basic of a episodic duet between clarinet and first violin. The third element in the development section occurs in bar 49 when a return to the home key is reached and the clarinet announces a variation of the arpeggio fragment, which is then developed as a duet between viola and cello in bar 57. In bar 65 the solo clarinet in true rhapsodic virtuosity, which lends itself to further development in the motifs, discussed above until a rallentando in bar 85 returns the music to the home key and tempo in the recapitulation which occurs in bar 87. A coda closes this first section and prepares the ensuing second section. This D minor Adagio in my sincere humility is one of my finer creations. Song like in character it reflects and meditates on the ills of the world which encompass the evils of war, the blight of starvation and sickness, cruelty and greed and all manner of “mans injustice to man”. The plaintive voice of the solo clarinet carries the main argument “like a lone voice crying in the wilderness” with interjections from the other voices reflecting on the sad anthem of the broken spirit. The attacca into the third section disperses the melancholy as the key returns to the major home key in a compound duple metronome time, which personifies a jocular rondo format. The clarinet introduces the main theme followed in bar 165 by the first violin and the music is developed until the second subject on the clarinet is reached in a Meno Mosso at bar 189 which is repeated staccato in bar 197 by the violin with the development of this material occurring in bar 205 alternating between the legato phrases of the clarinet and the staccato phrases of the violin. In the middle of this development section at bar 221 the music becomes subdued with the lowering of the dynamic to piano and this is now worked through a range of keys until the return of the recapitulation of the opening rondo theme at bar 263 which is followed by the coda at bar 279 which closes the work.


Composer
Publisher
Duration
12 minutes
Genre
Classical music
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