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Sonata in D minor

composer
1825-1828; originally written for viola
arranger

 
It was the clarinet which first awoke the early nineteenth century composer Mikhail Glinka’s lifelong love of music: more precisely, hearing at the age of 10 or 11 a clarinet quartet by the Swedish-Finnish composer Bernhard Crusell. As Glinka recalled, “This music produced an incomprehensible, new, and delightful impression upon me. Thereafter I remained for the whole day in a sort of feverish condition, was submerged in an inexplicable, sweetly lethargic state…from that time I passionately loved music.” It seems odd, then, that Glinka never wrote a work featuring the clarinet as the main solo instrument. Possibly he was overawed by Crusell’s idiomatic writing, Crusell being a clarinet player himself. However at the age of 21 Glinka did begin composing a sonata for his own instrument, the viola, completing its opening Allegro movement in 1825. In his memoirs, he singled this out as one of his most successful early pieces, and certainly it has considerable charm, most notably in the early-Romantic style second subject.

Three years later Glinka added a slow movement during a visit to Moscow where he stayed with his old school friend Nikolai Melgunov (who not only introduced Glinka to Pushkin, but also did much to influence Glinka’s approach in composing his landmark opera A Life for the Tsar). The Larghetto harks back to Mozart in its noble classical character (all the more evident when played by clarinet) with just a touch of melancholy equally characteristic of the Viennese composer. Glinka, who was well pleased with this slow movement, had intended to add a rondo-finale based on a popular Russian folk song, Ladushka; this was never fulfilled and Glinka eventually used the folk song in “Children’s Polka”, a short piano piece composed in 1854.

from notes by Daniel Jaffé © 2014

Recordings

Glinka, Milhaud & Prokofiev: Clarinet Sonatas
Studio Master: SIGCD384Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Details

Movement 1: Allegro moderato
Movement 2: Larghetto, ma non troppo

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