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L’Histoire de la Clarinette

February 3 @ 7:30pm - 9:30pm

Join me for a recital that traces this history of the clarinet and its repertoire in the French tradition. Inspired by a long chat over coffee with Philippe Cuper, I’m looking at this important music with fresh eyes and eager ears.

You’ll have 2 chances to hear this recital:
11/15/2021 at 7:30 PM at College of the Ozarks
2/3/2022 at 7:30 PM at Washburn University

On the Program:
Pièces pour la Musette Op. 10 – Jean Hotteterre (1677-1720)
La Nopce Champêtre ou L’Himen Pastoral
I. Prelude: l’Appel pour rassembler la Troupe
II. I.ere Marche pour la Nopce Champêtre
III. Sarabande l’Himen
IV. Marche du Retour
V. Les Complimens
VI. Overture Le Festin

Premiére Sonate – François Devienne (1759-1803)
I. Allegro con spiritoso
II. Adagio
III. Rondo allegretto

Premiére Rhapsodie – Claude Debussy (1862-1918)


Cantiléne – Louis Cahuzac (1880-1960)

Sonata for Clarinet in B-flat and Piano (1962) – Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
I. Allegro tristamente
II. Élégie – romanza
III. Allegro con fuoco

Program Notes:
We’ll start with a piece for chalumeau by Jean Hotteterre. He was a member of one the founding wind luthier families in Paris, whose offspring eventually married into other famous luthier families like Buffet (developers of the modern clarinet). This Hotteterre (there were lots of them) was also the court mussette (bagpipes) player for Louis XIV.

We’ll continue to a sonata for clarinet and piano by François Devienne. Devienne was a flutist, bassoonist, and composer and worked at the Paris Opera. I’ll play the first of his three clarinet sonatas.

There are two pieces on this program that are globally considered to be the quintessential pieces of French clarinet repertoire, and we’ll get through the first right before intermission. Debussy’s Premiere Rhapsodie was originally composed for clarinet and piano for the Paris Consertatoire’s Concours. In order to graduate, a student had to win this competition performing a brand-new piece by a conservatoire faculty member. With its mysterious, impressionistic character, it’s no mystery why this piece continues to enchant both audience and clarinetist alike.

After intermission, we’ll come back for a little late-romantic pallet cleanser. Louis Cahuzac’s Cantilene is a charming work that sounds like it’s straight out of a Rom-Com. During our coffee chat, Philippe told me many stories about Cahuzac and his legacy as a clarinetist, teacher, and composer. I even learned that he has a (formerly unknown) place on my clarinet family tree; that is, he taught some of my teachers’ teachers’ teachers’ etc.

We’ll end the concert with a true banger—Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. While I know that this leaves us with about 75 years of history left to cover, it seemed like the best way to end. Philippe also told me a lesser-known story about Poulenc’s Sonata. Poulenc composed the second movement first as an elegie to his dear friend, Arthur Honegger. According to Philippe, Poulenc worked symbiotically with French clarinetist André Boutard and arranged a premier in France before its “official” premier in the US by Benny Goodman. However, Poulenc died before he could hear his work premiered in either country.


February 3
7:30pm - 9:30pm
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White Concert Hall
Topeka, KS US + Google Map