These quartets for four B♭ clarinets are appropriate for advanced clarinetists and also work well for casual classical gigs, sight-reading and adult amateurs. All of the selections are original works for clarinet quartet and have become standard repertoire for the ensemble. Complete publishing information can be found below.
Purchase these tracks on Amazon MP3
This rag will require a great deal of work technically for all the players but it is worth it. Although the composer indicated that it be performed as a fast rag, it also works at a slower tempo. I have had groups do it at 100-108 and it if it is clean, it is still effective. I believe that the 126 tempo is just too fast, it is treacherous to expect accuracy above 112. I have recorded this at two different tempos in order to demonstrate that it is effective within a range of speeds, so please refer to either that you find the most useful.
You will undoubtedly spend lots of time on the passages at mm. 17-18 and 50-52. It is with passages like these that individual practice with a metronome is essential before you come together as an ensemble. There are two obvious wrong notes: in the 1st part, m. 53, last note should be a written ‘f#’; in the 4th part, m. 58, first note should be a written ‘b’ natural. One of the more technically challenging spots is that with the triplet 16th notes in mm. 91 and 95. I found that if I put a breath accent on the second downbeat, everything lines up very well. Dr. Frackenpohl tells me that he also did a large clarinet choir version of this one too, so look for that.
Now, on to performance considerations. Experiment with tempo markings and see what you find to be the best for all concerned. None of the parts are terribly difficult, so in the 126-152 range is reasonable. Stylistically, I wanted a running quality for the Allegro, while the Moderato should have a reflective, sighing quality to it, so not too fast. (I chose 144 for the Allegro, 104 for the Moderato.) I have an affinity for perfect 4ths and 5ths, so I find the Moderato section to be such a beautiful melody to my ears. The 1st player should be free to play with the time within the flow of the accompaniment. Certainly this is subtle, but the lazy beginning of the triplets, the stretch over the top note two measures before J, these are moments when you can listen to your heart, rather than the metronome. I did make a few changes: 1) added accents in 3rd/4th/alto/bass parts at A and four after, same at F and four after; 2) two-bar crescendo, two-bar decrescendo phrases at G, four after G, M, and four after M; 3) Since the four-Bb clarinet version is a compromise (no low ‘c’), I changed the last two notes. I just didn’t like the doubled 3rd on the last chord, so I made the voicing a first-inversion tonic chord. I know, horrors, no root in the bass? Well sorry, not too many of us have a Bb clarinet with a low ‘c’ extension. It sounds better to me to have the 3rd part play a ‘g’ on both the penultimate bar and the last bar and if you are in tune, theoretically the low C is ringing as a difference tone. You see which chord voicing sounds better to you. Whether you stick to the score or use my adjustments, you will enjoy this piece, it is so much fun to play and a delight to hear.