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Homage a L'Histoire was specifically composed as a companion piece to Stravinsky's Soldier's Tale, employing the same instrumentation. There are six short movements of which the fifth is the least, and the sixth the most, Stravinskian [listen -- track 10, 0:00-0:51]. Most of them are shadowier than the original. The waltz, for instance, strikes me not as a dance or even the memory of a dance but as nostalgia for the pleasure of a dance.

Homage is the odd one out in evoking Stravinsky. All four pieces lie on the border between jazz and classical music, but Ravel is the most obvious reference point for the remainder.

The Sonata for Clarinet and Piano is the most classical in name, instrumentation and form. A slow introduction leads into the bright first movement [listen -- track 11, 0:00-1:21]. The second movement is slow and the third movement lively, as convention demands. 'Loneliness' is an apt title for the second movement, a lovely ballad with solos for both instruments and just enough tension to stop it becoming cloying. It makes the calypso finale -- too restless and trying unnecessarily hard to be dramatic -- faintly disappointing by contrast.

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Copyright © 24 August 2005 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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