Works > Intermezzo malinconico

Intermezzo malinconico

Written in:
bass clarinet
Commisioned by

Written in response to a request of the clarinetist Fernando Dominguez in 2013.Funded by Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte.


Premiered on 18th October 2013 at the Templo de la Compañía at the 41st Festival Internacional Cervantino in Guanajuato by Fernando Dominguez.

Programme Note

Intermezzo malinconico (2013) starts from an alternation of its own, between percussive attacks in a low register, created by jamming the tongue between the lips while playing, and higher sustained notes that slip in intonation through quarter-tone degrees, justifying the ‘malinconico’ part of the title.

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One might expect bridges and pathways to be found between these extremes, the one bouncing among a few notes relatively widely separated (the seventh from E flat to D is one prominent trajectory), the other sliding quite slowly. That is indeed what happens, as first the percussive sounds become normal tones, their bouncing now expressed as rapid irregular repetition (interrupted by multiphonics and fluttertonguing), then the poignant melancholic sounds open into melody. A sequence of ten long notes, each with a final crescendo, seems to be a destined hybrid and a goal, but is only a focus before a second phase of development. This introduces breathy sonorities, harmonics, trills, and tremolandos before repeating the ten-note line a semitone lower. The piece then, at a whisper, blows itself away.  Paul Griffiths