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Clarinet Sonata [something different]

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So this piece came in a fit of rage (or more accurately frustration) that I hadn't really written anything new of substance in a long time (except the Istanbul piece but I have been working on that one for maybe two years so it no longer feels fresh). Since graduating college  my output slowed to a crawl, partly because my full time job is so musically draining and partly because I didn't have ensembles to write for anymore. But I got sick of the stasis and threw together this ditty I present for your lambasting now.

It's a Clarinet Sonata. Incredibly (miraculously?) I've never written a full-length solo sonata except for some early works which are garbage. I decided to do a sonata because it's the polar opposite of an orchestra piece and allows me to focus more on the fundamentals of harmony and rhythm and counterpoint, etc. I might try and write a few of these until I've improved somewhat before I attempt to write for orchestra/band again.

Problems with this piece: the secondary theme ended up being way more schmaltzy than I anticipated but I do like it. I worry that it's so out of character compared to the other material that it doesn't make sense. Also, I got to the end of the second theme in the recap and I hit an obsidian wall. I have no idea what to do next. Most sonatas that I've seen might have a short recap of the first theme or both themes or some sort of code, but the ending cadence is so strong that I didn't feel any *need* to continue. Anybody have ideas?

Please note the  engraving is merely adequate. I didn't bother to put a lot of work into that yet since it is still in progress. (What's a bit weird is I find this engraving messy. Goes to show how publishing has forced my standards higher.) Further movements will be forthcoming, or this might just be a one-movement concert piece. Score is here in dropbox. My computer doesn't have Sibelius sounds so you'll have to suffer through a MIDI rendering.  :-\

SCORE: https://www.dropbox.com/s/amlqtbbbys1goch/clarinet%20sonata.pdf?dl=0
MIDI: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6hfc2zn2pp3pbq0/clarinet%20sonata.mid?dl=0

Please enjoy and feel free to eviscerate this one! I want to improve.

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Hi Justin,

I like it so far! It's charming and brings a lot of character out of the clarinet.

And personally, I'll take your messy engraving over a lot of people's finished product... (take that as a compliment from a fellow engraving nerd!)

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Hi Justin - I think this is great. The clarinet part has a wonderful mix of virtuosity and lyricism, the piano part (and its interactions with the clarinet) is well-developed, and the harmonic changes and large-scale tension are handled expertly.

You obviously know what you're doing, so please take my criticisms/suggestions with a grain of salt.

As to where to go next, if it were me, I would ask myself: What do you want the "shape" of the recap to be? (Do you want the end of the development to be the emotional climax of the piece, or do you want to build all the way to the coda?) What should the character of the ending be (or, if you're thinking like Beethoven, which theme should be "triumphant"? You have such a big contrast between your first and 2nd themes, maybe you could exploit it more in the final section).

One thing I would definitely get rid of, though, is the resolution at m. 360 (unless you want the movement to end within the next 10 measures). Otherwise, if you want to go on, you'll have to restart both the rhythmic and harmonic energy from scratch, and this can be difficult to do so late in the piece without losing the listener's attention. The piano part builds so nicely through most of the recap of Theme 2... what if you kept that energy going to transition into a more driving, climactic section instead of coming back down so soon (around m. 351)?

I like the variety of harmonic ideas and characters in the movement (e.g. the contrast the 2nd theme provides--please keep it!) and I think you handle the transitions between them very well for the most part. A few of them seemed a little abrupt to me, though (off the top of my head, m. 183 and its counterpart at m. 314). I think this is just because you're resolving to tonic triads prematurely here, and it feels like you're interrupting the tension of the surrounding sections. Even just replacing chords like these with less-resolved ones would improve the flow, I think.

That's a lot of words for relatively minor suggestions. It's very professionally written and would be a rewarding challenge for good performers... I hope you finish it and share the other movements here!

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Thanks for the kind comments! Nice idea about the sudden triads at 314 etc. I decided to rewrite that whole transition and it's a lot better. 

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Files have been updated! (See original links in OP)

I removed the cadence section and rewrote it to transition into the first theme material. I like it a lot!

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