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Arthur Bliss

Publisher: Novello & Co

Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet (1932)
Novello & Co Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Year Composed
26 Minutes
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Programme Note
Arthur Bliss Quintet for Clarinet and String Quartet (1932)
Allegro molto
Adagietto expressivo
Allegro energico

I wrote my clarinet quintet in 1931, and it had its first play-through at a musical evening in our Hampstead house late that year with Frederick Thurston and the Kutcher String Quartet.

The composition is in four movements, of which the two middle ones carry the most weight. The opening movement is a flow of 'conversation' between the five instruments. The clarinet starts the discussion, shortly afterwards the viola joins in, then the cello, and last of all the two violins add their comments. The music throughout is euphonious and lyrical. The second movement is an extended scherzo, strenuous and dramatic. It follows a fairly traditional sonata form and calls for vital rhythmic playing from all the five instrumentalists.

The third movement is a rhapsodical romance well suited to the expressive melodic power of the clarinet, while the final is all sprightly brilliance with cross rhythms to add to the zest. Towards the end there is a moment of tranquil lyricism, but the peroration soon follows with laughing gaiety.

© Sir Arthur Bliss

  • Soloist(s)
    Thea King, clarinets / Myers Foggin, piano / Griller String Quartet / Aeolian String Quartet
    Clarinet Classics:
  • Ensemble
    Maggini Quartet
    David Campbell (cl)
  • Soloist(s)
    Frederick Thurston (clarinet), Griller Quartet
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