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Sonatine, Op 100


Darius Milhaud achieved fame in his late 20s as the composer of such ballets as the Brazilian-inspired Le boeuf sur le toit (1920) and the jazz-influenced La création du monde (1922). So prolific was he as a composer that just five years later, in 1927, he had reached his hundredth opus; yet—apparently paying no particular heed to this apparent landmark—he fulfilled this with no more pretentious a work than a Sonatine for clarinet and piano, a successor to the 1922 Sonatine he had written for flute and piano. He dedicated the Clarinet Sonatine to the French player Louis Cahuzac, who gave its premiere in 1929.

Two rough and vigorous movements—characterized by Milhaud as Très rude (“harsh”)—frame a more reflective and melodious central movement. The brusque style of the outer movements is all the more accentuated by the piano’s parallel ninth chords and moments of polytonality which here and in the finale—unsurprisingly for a composer who exalted popular music genres—often suggest the rough-sounding ensemble of a village wind band, and indeed the peasant-derived polytonality of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Les noces. Yet the music is both virtuosic and increasingly sophisticated as it progresses, recalling other Stravinsky works such as The Soldier’s Tale and Symphonies of wind instruments. The more limpid style of the central movement, Lent, opens with an apparently artless, graceful melody accompanied by increasingly bluesy “crushed” harmonies in a style distinctively Milhaud’s own. The piano introduces a darker tone for the central section, in which the clarinet broods while the music steadily rises to an anguished and bleak climax, then sweetening for the return of the limpid opening melody. The finale brings the work to a rude yet joyous end.

from notes by Daniel Jaffé © 2014


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


Movement 1: Très rude
Movement 2: Lent
Movement 3: Très rude

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