For 3 clarinets: the first in Bb, the second and third in A
Premiere: in 1979, with the Kammermusikvereinigung des ORF (chamber music society of the Austrian Radio)
Duration: ca. 15 minutes

 

The Sonatine for 3 clarinets was composed between December 1976 and January 1977, and represents a big step forward compared to previous compositions. To begin with, there is an increased interest in intervallic structures. This is already evident in the »motto« of the first movement, an upwards-oriented figure that consists of a semitone and a whole tone. The presentation of a motto at the beginning of a piece thus becomes a hallmark of the composer. In addition, the interlocking of three such figures reveals that counterpoint, imitation, and canonic writing will play an increasingly important role in his pieces.

Despite these features, this three-movement piece is still indebted to the classical sonata form in its conception and structure. The inner coherence is illustrated through the modification and development of the first figure’s three-note structure. In the second movement—a modified song form—separation processes, which arise from one of the intervals of the main theme’s three-note figure, play an important role. In the third, rondo-like movement, the original figure is subjected to transformations consisting of a kind of upwards and then downwards loop. Overall, it is evident that this composition is informed by a structural process that will become one of main features of the composer’s later work.

This piece was important for the composer for another reason as well: it became, so to speak, his ticket to his postgraduate studies with Roman Haubenstock-Ramati, who would influence the further development of his style, and led at first to a tentative reorientation and finally (at least since the Bagatelles on the Name of György Ligeti, which were begun in 1989) to a radical stylistic change. (René Staar, January 2016)