June Emerson Wind Music
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Printed Edition
Composer:Berkeley, Lennox (1903-1989)
Publisher Ref:CH55492
Three distinctive short pieces for unaccompanied clarinet in A, without written key signatures but seldom if ever in C Major or A minor.

Price: £6.99
Editor:King, Thea
Skill Level:E
Publisher:Chester Music
Year of Issue:1983, 1991
ISMN:none specified
In 1927 the twenty-four year old Lennox Berkeley left Oxford for Paris to study music with Nadia Boulanger and later, Maurice Ravel. He became acquainted with Stravinsky, Poulenc and Roussel all of whom influenced his earlier, tonal basis of composing for about twenty years up to the mid 1950s. Thereafter he began to incorporate 'tone rows' and serialist techniques while remaining essentially a tonal composer and holding the Professorship of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music from 1946 to 1968.

The 'Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo' in A were composed in 1939 and dedicated to the outstanding clarinetist Thea King (1925-2007) who edited them. Although they predate Berkeley's experiments with atonalism by about fifteen years, they are written without key signatures so that their elusive tonality is indicated only by accidentals. They all have a time signature of 4/4 but pose some complex rhythmic changes within that. None is more than thirty bars duration. The opening two bars of the first piece, which resemble the start of Debussy's 'Syrinx', lead into a variety of chromatic semiquaver runs, rising and falling, with dynamic and tempo changes; and the second seems to be more diatonic with a recurring two bar theme. The third and final piece has a lighter feel and a sense of humour in the pairs of lower octave 'honks' which sound in the first and later bars.

  • II. Lento
  • III. Allegro

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