composition

Le petit duo

for Clarinet and Alto Saxophone

  • Genre
    Chamber
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Kenneth and Melanie Tse
  • Year completed
    2001
  • Year revised
  • Timing
    8:30
  • Catalog number
    178
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  • copies sold
  • 12
    known performances
  • General notes
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Le Petit Duo was composed between September 29 and October 3, 2001 and fairly extensively rewritten in July and August of 2002, the latter version being the first work that I composed any portion of using the Finale music-writing software (previously writing all of my music with pen and paper). The impetus for its composition came from Kenneth Tse, who pointed out to me the dearth of works for clarinet and alto saxophone. I consequently took the opportunity to write a work dedicated to both Kenneth and his then wife, Melanie, a fine clarinetist. The title is drawn from the brief length and small instrumentation of the work, and additionally from the fact that its dedicatees, who had performed as a duo in a number of venues, are small in physical stature. However, the work is anything but petite in the musical and technical demands that it places on its performers. Each of the three movements makes some kind of word play on the name of the dedicatees, whose surname is pronounced "chay". The first movement, "The Chase", seeks to evoke a wild flight through similar material being hurled back and forth between the two instruments, and use of long runs of 16th notes. The second movement, "The Chaise Lounge", suggests an atmosphere of some smoke-filled bar with its undulating rhythms and laid-back style, albeit with a virtuoso section which suggests the sentiment, "anything you can play, I can play faster." The third movement, "Tse-Tse Fly", adopts the only word in English that utilizes the Tses' name. In it, both performers are required to "fly" through the rapid runs in the movement. Depicted also are buzzing sounds of the tsetse fly, as well as an occasional onomatomusical depiction of someone attempting to swat the fly. Whether the fly escapes to buzz another day will be best decided by the listener.

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