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Grand rag : for clarinet and piano

by Elena Kats-Chernin (2021)

Grand rag


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Score & Part

Grand rag : for clarinet and piano / Elena Kats-Chernin.

Library shelf no. 788.62/KAT 16 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

Grand Rag is part of 2021 ANAM Set project, of 67 composers each composing a piece for an ANAM solo musician.

I wrote this piece for Oliver Crofts, an incredibly talented musician, with a very sharp sense for musicality and with a fantastic technique. He is also a young man who constantly wants to challenge his playing and improve all the time. Over a course of approximately two months we have been exchanging files and ideas and one of the frequent suggestions from Oliver was: "please make it more difficult and more virtuosic". Often the suggestion came with a bar number or a section where it could happen. After the piece was almost finished, we decided that it needed a cadenza, which, of course, for such a short piece had to be quite brief.

In the late 1990s I was obsessed with writing Rags, they were appearing in my head faster than I could write them down. Then came a "rag lull", time when I got rather bored with the genre and did not write anything in that kind of style. However in recent times I got interested in Rag again, but this time around it is more about strong and powerful expression, syncopation and working with a rather stringent pitch material. For example, it starts with clarinet working with just four pitches G, C, D and E flat (concert pitch) in a low register. Clarinet part moves between lowest and stratospheric registers throughout different sections of the piece.

The piano part is less an accompaniment and more an equal partner in this piece. I felt drawn to loud clusters and clanking rhythms, some extreme pedalling with held organ points and at a later point in the piece there is an atmospheric trills extravaganza.

Work Details

Year: 2021

Instrumentation: Clarinet in Bb, piano.

Written for: Oliver Crofts

Commission note: Commissioned by Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), The ANAM Set with funds provided by Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund.


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