Commissioned by the London-based clarinettist Lucy Downer, for a solo concert bass clarinet, this 8 minute work contains 6 short sections.
The opening Cadenza introduces the work with a wistful theme, freely played mainly in the middle clarino register. The second, 16-bar section is simply called Slow, and introduces a habañera theme which begins in the altissimo register, but gradually falls back into the clarino again, with several quick interjections from the very bottom of the range. This section ends on the lowest note of the bass. The following Fandango provides a complete contrast to the previous two sections; a lively 3/8 with MM80 bars a minute as a guideline tempo. This dance demands complete dynamic mastery, as well as technical fluency in every register, and is a particular challenge as it draws to a close, with repeated leaps across all three registers.
The fourth section is another, shorter Cadenza, beginning with a rising ‘harmonic series’ which ends on the highest note of the work, Eb′′′′, and then falls to the lowest notes of the bass, linking straight into the fifth section Habañera, which repeats the theme first heard in section 2. The intention was to create what is in effect, a duet for one player. The first two bars establish the underlying habañera rhythm, then the theme is played above this. Use of dynamic and timbral variation helps to reinforce the effect of the ‘two’ instruments. As this section develops, triplets are used to bounce between rhythm and melody, rising to the upper reaches of the instrument as we reach the final Coda section, a reprise of the opening cadenza theme finishing with four multiphonic chords.
The first performance (below) is by Lucy Downer, from her CD “Conversations” which is available on iTunes
The second link is to a live performance by Anna Eppel in Vienna
The sheet music for Spanish Rhapsody is published by Alea Publishing – click the link at the top of this page to purchase a copy from them