Clarinet Concerto (Leshnoff)
Duration: c. 24:15
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Clarinet and orchestra
Publisher: Theodore Presser
Cost: Score and Parts - Rental
1. Slow - 8:55
2. Chesed, Fast
Oboe III/English Horn
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV-V-VI
B-flat Bass Clarinet I-II
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV-V
Percussion (5 players), including:
- 1 Marimba, 2 Players
- 2 Vibraphones, 2 Players -or- 1 Vibraphone, 2 Players
- Bowed Crotales
B-flat Solo Clarinet
None discovered thus far.
Jonathan Leshnoff's Clarinet Concerto ('Nekudim') was based on mystical implications found within the Hebrew alphabet, though outside some exotic inflections. The piece was a brooding, lyrical child of the Aaron Copland Clarinet Concerto.
The atmospheric music suggested dark, unfathomable spiritual depths in the first movement. The scherzolike animation in the second movement was full of witty, infectious rhythms.
- Program Note by David Patrick Stearns
The Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and The Philadelphia Orchestra and co-commissioned by the Santa Barbara Symphony (Nir Kabaretti, music director). It is cast in three movements, with lush, pensive outer ones (both marked Slow) flanking a large central statement (Chesed, Fast) that is the heart and soul of the piece.
At the outset of the opening movement, the soloist presents a yearning lyrical central theme that is to form a building block for the piece, and which is reprised in the brief final movement. The second movement features passages of great rhythmic vitality juxtaposed with witty, jazz-like interpolations; it concludes with a free cadenza of virtuosic roulades that leads directly into the brief third movement. The finale (Slow) reprises the beginning of the opening movement, complete with a gentle series of restatements of the arching central theme.
The composer has written the following about the Concerto:
This Concerto is subtitled Nekudim (literally “points”), a term that refers to the vowels in the Hebrew language, notated by lines and dots underneath the letter. The majority of the Hebrew letters are consonants, such as the letter “b.” It is only the vowels that give the “b” vocal direction, such as “bee” or “bah,” etc. In a metaphysical context, the letters are lifeless “bodies” that are animated with the “soul” of a vowel.
To me, a woodwind instrument -- and the clarinet in particular -- is a musical example of this concept. A string instrument is held outside the body of the player and the violinist uses his exterior limbs (hands) to make the instrument sound. But the clarinet is attached to the player’s mouth -- Ricardo [Morales, clarinet soloist] is literally breathing life into the notes that I wrote. This is the concept of Nekudim illustrated in music. Knowing what a phenomenally sensitive musician Ricardo is, I trusted the long legato lines of the first and last movement, that require so much shaping and phrasing of each note, to his innate musicality. I am confident of him breathing in the “living soul” to the music.
Movement 2 is associated with the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “vav,” which refers to the attribute of Chesed in Jewish mystical thought. Chesed is associated with uninhibited giving, without regard to the merits of the recipient. The second movement is approximately 10 minutes of unrelenting motion. As I was writing, each time I contemplated a complete cadence, I found another way to continue. To me, this “continual continuation” represents the uninhibited giving of Chesed. The movement is fun and spirited, with a rhythmic dance of sorts in which woodblock and clarinet punctuate the end of each subsection.
- Program Note by Paul J. Horsley for the Philadelphia Orcherstra concert program, 14 April 2016
(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- University of Kentucky (Lexington) Wind Symphony (Cody Birdwell, conductor; Scott Wright, clarinet) – 21 October 2018
- Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) Wind Ensemble (Joseph Higgins, conductor; Rie Suzuki, clarinet) – 5 March 2018
- University of Miami (Fla.) Frost Wind Ensemble (Robert Carnochan, conductor; Margaret Donaghue-Flavin, clarinet) – 17 March 2017 (CBDNA 2017 National Conference, Kansas City, Mo.)
- Philadelphia Orchestra (Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Ricardo Morales, clarinet) – 14 April 2016
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Clarinet Concerto (2016)
- Concerto for Five Percussionists and Band (2011)
- Eight Nights of Light
- Rush (arr. Cicconi) (2008/2016)
- Starburst (trans. Nowlin) (2010/2018)
- Jonathan Leshnoff website Accessed 6 February 2017