Miniatures for clarinet and string quartet (2005) by Vivian Fung
II. Light and Playful
III. Improvisation-like...Twirling, with a sense of urgency
IV. A Piacere...Moderato e semplice
Total Duration: ca. 13 minutes
Miniatures was commissioned by Music in the Loft as a memorial to the life of the late Chicago journalist Ted Shen, a close friend of Music in the Loft. I did not have the honor of knowing Ted personally, but I know of his love for the arts and for Chinese culture. As a tribute to him, I have written four short movements (hence the title Miniatures) and have based all of them on a folksong entitled “Love of Homeland,” from the Xinjiang province of Northwestern China which is reproduced below. Elements of the folksong can be heard in each of the four movements, as I develop the melody in the first three movements and introduce it in full form in the last movement.
The first movement is gentle, and the folksong appears in a heavily ornamented form, weaving in and out of a floating atmosphere. The second movement, light and playful, has intermittent staccato notes played by the string instruments, which also interact with the clarinet. The melodic line is modified so that only the opening motive from the folksong is present. The third movement begins with an improvisational-sounding melody in the clarinet, initially featuring a reworking of the folksong with a more exotic scale, but then moving to a more urgent, twirling action in all the instruments. The last movement most directly quotes the original folksong, with the sound of the clarinet evoking the cries of a folksinger from the Chinese countryside and plucked strings, or pizzicato, creating a guitar-like accompaniment. The movement develops the folksong extensively and ends with a flourish that includes a clarinet glissando to one of the highest notes of the instrument's range.
- Vivian Fung
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