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Preparing a New Chamber Work and New Chamber Music for Flute and Clarinet, Part II

Joanna Cowan White | November 2009

    When my ensemble, The Eclectic Trio, embarked upon a recording project of new chamber music, we called Catherine McMichael, knowing that her lyrical and humorous writing would be perfect for a flute, clarinet, and saxophone trio. McMichael is on the faculty at Saginaw Valley State University and performs with the Saginaw Bay Orchestra and Sag­inaw Choral Society. A versatile composer, she is particularly loved by flutists for her prolific flute writing.
    She reported back to us almost immediately that while floating around in a swimming pool she had come up with themes for a piece. The three-movement work A Short Dance Suite for Flute, Clarinet, and Alto Saxophone was the result, and we premiered it at a national convention. The audience was enthusiastic, and groups have now played the work all over the world. Advanced high school groups and up can play A Short Dance Suite so it is a natural place to start when exploring flute and clarinet chamber literature.
    The first challenge when preparing any work for non-standard instrumentation is deciding how to sit or stand to produce the best balance between the instruments. For the McMichael piece, standing is necessary because the players move from place to place in the last movement. We found that the instruments blend well without the saxophone overwhelming the other two when the flute is on the right, the clarinet is in the center, and the saxophone is on the left but pointed slightly toward the back of the stage. We also recorded the piece during rehearsals to check the balance. Rehearsing at least once in the concert hall assures that what worked in a small room translates to a larger space.
    While flutists and clarinetists play together often, the addition of saxophone is more unusual, and we discovered that we needed to pay extra attention to match note beginnings and endings. We took turns playing articulations for each other and then put it together. We frequently recorded ourselves to check that note beginnings were the same style and note endings tapered together.
    For the melodic Sarabande movement, we found a tempo that felt dance-like without rushing forward. To play gracefully, we decided on the peak point in each phrase to avoid relentlessly accenting every downbeat.
    The Tango Lánguido is a colorful Argentine dance, and the Jitterbug movement is the most challenging because it involves choreography. Each player moves twice to another musician’s stand. To prepare we copied the bits of music to be played in other locations and taped them to the music on the stand to which we would be moving. We found it helpful to highlight the small snippets of music in a specific color for each musician to make the excerpts easier to find after moving. Then we memorized the bits of music played while moving from place to place. The amount of music to memorize is small but playing and dancing turned out to be a challenge! Don’t worry about lack of dance experience because the steps are not actual dance steps but merely dance-like.
    After we prepared this movement and also taught it to student groups, we found that there are three steps to perfection. First play the movement through without moving around to make sure that everything sounds good. Then play the dance segments many times with the steps, at first in slow motion and then up to tempo. Finally, put it all together. Performing the work more than once is also a good idea because you warm to the audience laughter and become more comfortable the second time. It helps to smile at the audience to loosen them up for a good time.

    Many of us seek new music for our chamber groups but find the fees of professional composers out of reach, and grants and corporate sponsorships are difficult to obtain. Many musicians have formed consortiums with performers around the country to share commission fees. This brilliant solution has produced major new works for ensembles.
    Groups share a commission, and each premieres the work in their own location. For example, composer Bill Douglas composed a woodwind quintet in 2007 for a commission shared by 35 quintets and 22 individuals. He has since written other pieces the same way.
    Wind ensembles around the country, sometimes in conjunction with organizations like the College Band Directors National Association, have joined to commission works from composers like John Corigliano, William Bolcolm, Joan Tower, and David Gillingham. 
    The Flute/Clarinet Duos Con­sortium founded in 2000 by Leone Buyse, Michael Webster, and Michael Isadore has already made important contributions to the literature for flute, clarinet, and piano. Three exciting works from major composers already provide a challenge for advanced groups. Individual en­sem­bles commission works as well. The Webster Trio, Palisades Vir­tuosi, Underwood/Lamneck/Locker, Eclectic Trio, and Crescent Duo are among those that have commissioned multiple works for flute and clarinet with other instruments added. See a list of works below that were composed in the last 15 years, written mostly for flute, clarinet, and one additional instrument.

New Chamber Music for Flute and Clarinet
(1994-2008), part 2

For a list of flute/clarinet duos and works with electronics and singer or narrator, see part 1 of this article in Flute Talk, September, 2009.
(Also see “Blending Flutes and Clarinets,” Flute Talk, April 1996 by Leone Buyse)

Rated for: A – Young student through high school; B – Advanced high school and college; C – College and professional

Flute (or Piccolo), Clarinet, and Piano
Abigaña, Brett: Four Dances, C,  Carolyn Nussbaum Music, 2007; commissioned and premiered in 2007 by the Webster Trio.
Al-Zand, Karim: Four Fables, C, Karim Al-Zand,  2003; (The Grasshopper & the Ant, The Owl & the Echo, The Lion, the Fox, & the Fish, The Man & the Fish Horn)  commissioned by the Wreckhouse Winds; delicate and elegant.
Amlin, Martin: Trio Sonatina, C, Theodore Presser, 1999; written for the Webster Trio, exciting.
Bermel, Derek: Twin Trio, C, Derek Bermel, 2005; commissioned by the Flute/Clarinet Duos Consortium and premiered at the 2005 National Flute Association (N.F.A.) convention by Jill Felber, Paul Bambach, and Dianne Frazier Cross, excellent.
Biddington, Eric: Trio for Flute, Bb Clarinet, and Piano, Centre for New Zealand Music, B, 2000; written for the Ashburton College Trio.
Brandt, Anthony: Round Top Trio,  B, Soundout Press, 2004; written for the Webster Trio, beautiful with intensity.
Brooks, Richard: Circular Motions, C, American Composers Alliance,  2004/5;  (Maelstrom, In the Eye of the Storm, Whirlwind) written for     Underwood/Lamneck/Locker, based on a tone row and the Fibonnaci series.
Buss, Howard J: Night Flight, B, Brixton Publications, 1999;  Piccolo, clarinet, and piano. recorded by Lois Bliss Herbine on Crystal Records, exciting.
Coleman, Valerie: Portraits of Langston, C, Valerie Coleman, 2007; (Prelude, Danse Africaine, Le Grand Duc Mambo, Silver Rain, Parisian, Harlem) commissioned by the Flute/Clarinet Duos Consortium and premiered at the 2007 N.F.A. convention by Michael and Jennifer Isadore and Stephen Morris. Excellent.
Cooper, Dan: Trio, B, 2004; (Barnacles, Kingston Bop, Vaudevillians) written for the Palisades Virtuosi. Piccolo/bass clarinet used.
Draganski, Donald D.: Trio from Rio,  B, 1998; (Allegro energico, Andante-poco piu mosso, Allegro moderato) written for the Pilgrim Chamber Players, Brazilian influence.
Edelson, Edward: Black Moon Rising, Journeys: Carribean Winds, and The Well-Tempered Toddler, A, 2004/2001/2002; easy trio pieces.
Eskow, Gary: Not a Sonata! C,  2005; (Merci, Monsieur P., Remembering Ray, Coconut Cream, Scherzo­phrenia) written for the Palisades Virtuosi, some jazz, varied influences including Francis Poulenc, Henry Mancini, and Ray Charles.
Ewazen, Eric: Wildflowers, B, Eric Ewazen, 2008; (Dense Blazing Star, Missouri Primrose, Mexican Hat) piccolo, clarinet, and piano, commissioned by Jan Gippo and Jane Carl with others for the 2008 International Clarinet Conference. “Upbeat and well received.” (Carl)
Franzetti, Carlos: Four Movements for Virtuosi, C, Carlos Franzetti, 2006; (Palisades, Baya, Melancolico, Finale) written for the Palisades Virtuosi, influence from the U.S. and Argentina, exciting.
Ghezzo, Dinu: Breezes of Yesteryear, C,  Editions Salabert, revised 2000; commissioned by Salabert, alto, piccolo, and flute, pan-tonal and modal.
Ghidoni, Armando: Classical Fugue Goes Jazz, B, Alphonse Leduc, 2002; Bach meets jazz.
Grad, Aaron: Lepidopterology, B, Aaron Grad, 2003; written for the Palisades Virtuosi, flutist also plays piccolo, lyrical with technical sections, appealing.
Harvey, Jonathan: The Riot, C, Faber, 2002; piccolo and flute with Bass clarinet, contemporary and dramatic.
Higdon, Jennifer: Dash, C, Lawdon Press, 2001, Version B;  Version A has violin instead of flute,  Virtuosic.
Hoch, James S: Tarantella, B, Zims Music Company, 1995; score available from the N.F.A. Library.
Lampkin, John: George Washington Slept Here!, B, John Lampkin, 2004; written for the Palisades Virtuosi, fun variations on a fiddle tune, some piccolo.
Lane, Richard: Trio #2, B, Richard Lane, 2004; (Largo, Allegro moderato) written for the Palisades Virtuosi, extremely melodic.
Larsen, Libby: Barn Dances, C, Oxford University Press, 2001; (Forward Six and Fall Back Eight, Divide the Ring, Varsouvianna, Rattlesnake Twist) commissioned by the Flute/Clarinet Duos Consortium and premiered at the 2001 N.F.A. Convention by Helen Ann and Richard Shanley, excellent.
Levy, Frank Ezra: Trio No. 2, C, Frank Ezra Levy, 2006; (Molto vivace, Andantino, Vivace, Adagio moderato) written for the Palisades Virtuosi, lyricism alternating with virtuosity.
Manno, Robert: Three Scenes from the Mountains, B, Robert Manno, 2004; (The Wind on the Water, The Meadow at Dawn, The Forest at Night) written for the Palisades Virtuosi, song-like.
Manookian: Trio for Flute, Clarinet, and Piano, B, Windsor Editions, 2000; commissioned by Laurel Ann Maurer.
Moss, Lawrence: Suite for Flute, Clarinet, and Piano, C,  North­eastern Music Publications, 2002; (Flowing, Blur­ring, Songs, Mirrors, Gigabyte) effective contemporary ensemble writing.
Newman, Caroline: Fantasie B, 2006; written for the Palisades Virtuosi, uses alto flute and bass clarinet, substantial.
Oliver, Harold, Isomorphic Plenum, C,  Sibelius Music, 2003/4; commissioned by Esther Lamneck, inspired by Webern and Babbitt.
Rae, James: Jazz Trios, B, Universal, 1997.
Rokeach, Martin: Can’t Wait, B,  Northeastern Music, 1999; commissioned by the Music Teacher’s Association of California, playable by advanced high school groups. (flute or violin.)
Schocker, Gary: Sonata No. 1, B, Falls House Press, 2007; (Allegro, Andante, Presto giocoso) three melodic and accessible movements make a good addition to advanced high school literature.
Schroth, Godfrey: Variations on an Appalachian Carol, B, 2003; written for the Palisades Virtuosi, pretty variations on the Christmas carol, “I Wonder as I Wander”.
Schoenfield, Paul: Sonatina, C, Migdal Publishing, 1995; (Charleston, Hunter Rag, Jig) outstanding and challenging.
Shawn, Allen: Three Nightscapes, C,  2006; (Meditation, Dream, Re­mem­brance) written for the Palisades Virtuosi, reflective and agitated.
Sirota, Robert: Birds of Paradise, C,  2008; commissioned by the Webster Trio and premiered by them at the 2008 N.F.A. Convention. “Fantastic, colorful, and rewarding.” (Buyse)
Somers, Paul Mack: An Arch of Miniatures, B, 2004; (Presto Leg­giero, Largo, Languidly, Conver­sa­­tionally, Andante – Fleeting) brief movements, one with flute and clarinet, one piano solo.
Stallmann, Kurt: Chrystal’d Streams, C, Kurt Stallman, 2004; written for the Webster Trio.
Svoboda, Thomas: Sonatine, Op. 154 , B, 1996; and Dreams of a Dancer, Op. 156, 1999; Svoboda’s earlier work for trio was popular.
Toensing, Richard: Children of Light and Mysterion; C (Troparion Muisc LLC) 2002, written for the Webster Trio.
Vollrath, Carl: Trio No. 1, C, Tap Music Sales, 2000; recorded by Finegold and Stolzman.
Webster, Michael: Arrangements and transcriptions, B-C, Bizet: Carmen Rhapsody, Jeux d’enfants; Brahms: Hungarian Dance Suite No. 1 and 2; Debussy: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune; Petite Suite; Dvorak: Slavonic Dance Suite #1; Fauré: Dolly Suite, Op. 56; International; Fauré: Pavane; Gottschalk: La Jota Aragonesa; Souvenir de la Havane; Souvenir de Cuba; Grande Tarantelle, Op. 67; Grieg: Four Norwegian Dances; Husa: Eight Bohemian Sketches, Schott; Mozart: Magic Flute Fantasy; Puccini: Sonata Cho-Cho San (based on Madama Butterfly); Schubert: Introduction and Hungarian Rondo. Inter­national. Outstanding as well as fun for performers and audiences, many are recorded by the Webster Trio with Leone Buyse and Michael Webster on Crystal and Nami/Live Notes.

Standard Flute/Clarinet Chamber Repertoire
Although this article contains music from the last 15 years, it is important to recognize the standards, including popular works by Arnold, Bloch, Buss, Copland, Crawley, Crumb, Danzi, Devienne, Emmanuel, Gebaur, Haladyna, Iannaccone, Koechlin, Kummer, Lemeland, Piston, Saint-Saëns, Schmitt, Shostakovich, Svoboda, Wilder, and more. For an excellent list of established flute/clarinet music, see: Buyse, Leone: “Blending Flutes and Clarinets,” Flute Talk, April 1996.

Flute and Clarinet with One Other Instrument
(may also include percussion or piano)
Barab, Seymour: Encounters, B, Seymour Barab, 2008; flute, clarinet, and bassoon.
Barcos, Alan: Danzas Costeñas, B,  Emerson Edition, 1999; flute, clarinet, and guitar. (Piano may be substituted for guitar.) score available from the N.F.A. Library.
Blank, Alan: Four Bagatelles, B, Falls House Press, 2006; flute, clarinet, and bassoon. Finalist N.F.A. Newly Published Music Competition, premiered by the Vermont Contem­porary Music Ensemble.
Blank, Alan: Interplay, B, Falls House Press, 2007; flute (piccolo), clarinet in A, horn, and piano, four movements.
Coleman, Valerie: Umoja – A Kwanzaa Celebration, B, International Opus, recent; flute, oboe, clarinet or two flutes and clarinet, call and response.
D’Rivera, Paquito: Habanera, B, International Opus, recent; flute, clarinet, and oboe, taken from the popular Aires Tropicales for woodwind quintet.
Fine, Elaine: Five Postcards, B, Elaine Fine, 2008; flute, clarinet, cello, and piano, for the Arcadia Chamber Players.
Gillingham, David: American Counter­point, C, C. Alan Publishers, 2002; flute, clarinet, and saxophone, commissioned by the Eclectic Trio.
Hollinden, Dave: Flux, C, Steve Weiss Music, 2002; flute, clarinet, saxophone, and marimba, Hollinden added woodwinds for a rhythmically difficult composition. The staccato bursts in the percussion, flute, and clarinet, underscore the wailing saxophone in its plaintive lament. commissioned by the Eclectic Trio.
McMichael, Catherine: Eclectic Trio, A Short Dance Suite for Flute, Clarinet, and Alto Saxophone, B,  Alry Publications, 2003; (Sarabande, Tango Lánguido, Jitterbug) commissioned by the Eclectic Trio and premiered at the 2005 International Clarinet Association Conference, melodic woodwind writing mixed with humor.
Ruggiero, Charles: Echoes of “Piano Red”, C, Charles Ruggiero, 2006; (Three Travelers, Anyone’s Dream, Play and Laugh) flute, clarinet, and saxophone, written for the Eclectic Trio and inspired by Duke Ellington. The bass clarinet provides a unique texture and funky feel in the first movement. Anyone’s Dream is lyrical, while Play and Laugh slides into jazz.
Smith, Rob: Maya, C, Rob Smith, 2002; (Pacal-Great Maya King, Naj Tunich-Sacred Cave, Popol Vuh-Legend of the Maya Underworld) flute, clarinet, and saxophone, (opt. percussion). written for the Eclectic Trio, percussionist Andrew Spencer added percussion for the first recorded performance. (Woodwind Echoes) complex meters, jazz style, and improvisatory sections permeate this fresh and unusual work.

Larger Ensembles
There are many larger works that include flute and clarinet. Particularly popular is the Pierrot Lunaire instrumentation: flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and sometimes percussion or other instrument. The list is long but composers include John Harbison, Shulamit Ran, George Rochberg, Jennifer Higdon, Cindy McTee, and Joan Tower. Woodwind quintets abound and are not included in this article.

Recent Chamber Recordings
Flute and Clarinet with Added Instruments

(See part 1 for Flute and Clarinet as a Duo.)
World Wide Webster, Webster Trio (Dvorak, Debussy, Brahms, Gottschalk) Crystal Records.
Tour de France, Webster Trio (Fauré-Webster, Saint-Saens, Debussy, Debussy-Webster, Bizet-Webster) Crystal Records.
Sonata Cho-Cho San, Webster Trio (Webster, Mozart, Puccini, Bizet) Nami/Live Notes.
New American Masters, vols. 1 and 2, Palisades Virtuosi (Grad, Manno, Cooper, Lane, Somers, Schroth, Lampkin) (Newman, Levy, Eskow, Shawn, Franzetti) Albany Records.
Palisades Virtuosi in Recital (Bloch, Gaubert, Debussy, Scriabin, Danzi, Saint-Saens) High Point Records.
The Phenomenon of Threes, Underwood, Lamneck, Locker (Moss, Ghezzo, Brooks, Oliver, Mazurek) Innova.
Chamber Music With Flute, Pahud, Lesage, Meyer (Shostakovich, Milhaud, Schmitt, Emmanuel) EMI.
Woodwind Echoes, Crescent Duo/Eclectic Trio (McMichael, Ruggiero, Hollin-den, Smith) White Pine Music.
Flights of Fancy, Crescent Duo with others(Arnold, Piston, Gillingham) Centaur Records.
Clarinet Chamber Music of Alvin Etler, White, White, Rehm, Centaur Records.
Iannaconne, Stone, Luevano, Pederson (Iannaccone)Albany Records.
Sir Malcolm Arnold – Wind Chamber Music, East Winds, Naxos.
Take Wing, Bliss Herbine, piccolo (Buss) Crystal Records.
Music for a Sunday Afternoon, Maurer, Harlow, Jensen (Manookian, Kraft) 4Tay.
Kupferman, O North Star, Maurer, Harlow, Martin (Kupferman) Soundspell.
Jennifer Higdon, Glaser (Higdon)Koch.
Music from Bohemia, Spektrum Trio: Shotola, Stanford, Svoboda (Svoboda, Myslivecek, Malek, Crcek) North Pacific Music.
Twilight Remembered, McCormick Duo (Carter)flute/clarinet/marimba) Capstone Records.
Shostakovich/Schoenberg, Nash Ensem­ble, Virgin Classics.
Saint-Saëns – Chamber Music, Nash Ensemble, Hyperion.
Dreams of a Dancer, Trio Spektrum: (Svoboda) North Pacific Music.
Chamber Music for the Clarinet, Potter, Vigneau, Lemmons, Gunning (Saint-Saens) UNM.
Samsara, Australia Ensemble (Sitsky, Kerry, Vine) Vox Australis.
Jubilance!, Wind River Trio (Hoch) James S. Hoch.
20th Century Concertos for Flute and Clarinet, Jundt, Hafliger, Camerata Zurich (Haller, Vogel, Blum, Schaeuble) Guild.
Music for a Sunday Afternoon, Maurer, Harlow, Jenson (Manookian, Wilder) 4Tay.
Takemitsu: Toward the Sea, Toronto New Music Ensemble, Naxos.
Koechlin – Chamber Music with Flute, Ruhland, Altmann, Hanssler Classics.
Jack’s Fat Cat: Carl Vollrath, Finegold, Stolzman, Vollrath, MMC Recordings.
Strange Imaginary Animals, Thirteen Ways; Eighth Blackbird (Higdon, Tower) Cedille Records.
Chamber Music of Shulamit Ran, Music of Elliott Carter and George Perle, Harvey Sollberger – Riding the Wind I, Music by Joan Tower, Arnold Schoenberg – Pierrot Lunaire, Joan Tower; Da Capo Chamber Players (various composers) Bridge Records, GM Recordings, CRI, CRI, Bridge Records, New World Records.

Internet Resources
The Webster Trio:
The Palisades Virtuosi:
The Crescent Duo:
Elaine Harris, Repertoire:

Scott/Garrison Duo Repertoire:
Clarinet Composition Database:
Calumet Chamber Musicians:
Annapolis Chamber Players: