for solo clarinet and 15 players [1987/88] | duration: 32’00”

Originally commissioned as a concerto for clarinet and chamber ensemble, Martin Lichtfuss composed 30 minutes of music for solo clarinet and fifteen players in three groups (a woodwind block, a brass quintet and – as a kind of “continuo core” – percussion, piano, accordion, electric guitar/bass and synthesizer), which only partially reveals the traditional concerto form.

In formal terms, the three movements are clearly delineated as such, even if they are merged into a single entity. In terms of the ensemble constellation, however, the piece can hardly be called a “concerto” in the conventional sense. This is due to the fact the solo clarinet is flanked by fifteen soloists who develop no lesser instrumental ambitions and who occasionally attempt to outstrip the clarinetist. This results in a competition, something akin to a baroque concerto grosso. The musicians are also challenged to improvise creatively. In any case, the members of the ensemble are clearly emancipated, even if the clarinet repeatedly succeeds in asserting itself.

From a compositional point of view, this work offered the opportunity to experiment with a freely assembled instrumental ensemble and to investigate new possibilities of expression. The inclusion of characteristic instruments, on the one hand (accordion, electric guitar), and the use of electronic sounds on the other, resulted from the desire to juxtapose sound ideas and experiences of other contemporary musical tendencies with the sound spectrum of a traditional wind orchestra. In this context, the confrontation of musicians from the jazz scene with so-called electronic musicians provided a fertile basis for the development and expression of musical tensions. One of the main goals of this work was to explore expressive areas rooted in forms of both jazz and “art music” with a formation that, in some respects, resembles a big band.

Peter Rabl – clarinet; ‘Innsbrucker Ensemble für Neue Musik’; Conductor: Martin Lichtfuss

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