Nielsen Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra Op. 57 (piano reduction)


The Clarinet Concerto was instigated at the request of Nielsen's friend Carl Johan Michaelsen in 1928 and written for the Copenhagen Wind Quintet's Aage Oxenvad. Nielsen apparently considered the clarinet to be an instrument of almost schizophrenic personality, being both warm-hearted and gentle, and hysterical and troll-like. Oxenvad himself was an irascible character. The resultant concerto has a roughness not found in the Flute Concerto. Oxenvad said that Nielsen must have been able to play the clarinet himself, or he could not have found all the hardest notes to play. The concerto is in one movement but this is broken up into a number of parts: nevertheless, the overall pattern is in keeping with the quick-slow-quick regime of a classical concerto. The weighty and peasant-like theme heard at the start makes a number of appearances in various forms, thus helping to give unity to the work throughout its various sections. A side drum plays an important rôle in a kind of mini-battle with the soloist. Nielsen's son-in-law Emil Telmányi conducted the first performance on 14th September 1928. The strange bleak landscape inhabited by the concerto prompted Telmányi to refer to it as 'music from another planet'. (Stephen Moore)

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