Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra

by Kalevi Aho

Empty sheet

Kalevi Aho

Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra

Fennica Gehrman


The background of my Clarinet Concerto is unusual. In 2003 the wonderful Swedish clarinettist Martin Fröst got the Borletti Buitoni Award, which is granted for young, exceptionally talented concert artists. Martin wanted to use the prize for the commissioning of a new clarinet concerto written just for him. He discussed about the possible composer also with Robert von Bahr, the grounder and owner of the Swedish gramophone company BIS, and Robert gave to him some recordings of my works. Martin interested in my music, and as a consequence the Borletti-Buitoni Trust commissioned the clarinet concerto for Martin from me.

I met Martin for the first time in Vienna in November 2004 he played as the soloist of Mozart¹s Clarinet Concerto at the Musikverein Vienna. Later I have heard him as a soloist also in Finland both with the classical and modern concerto repertoire. When we met, Martin told me about the technical tricks of the clarinet, which increase the expressivity and the virtuosity of the instrument, and in the concerto I have made use of them.

The concerto has five movements, which are played without pause (attacca) together. The beginning (Tempestoso) is very dramatic and powerful, but there is in the first movement also a beautiful, slow middle section. The second movement consists of a virtuoso solo cadenza, which is dominated by the mysterious tremolos of the clarinet.

The cadenza leads to the centre and culmination of the concerto, "Vivace, con brio", which is the most virtuoso movement both for the orchestra and the soloist. In "Vivace, con brio" the time signature is changing almost in every bar, and therefore this rhythmically capricious movement is quite difficult also for the conductor.

After a big culmination follows then the slow, melancholy and singing fourth movement, "Adagio, mesto". And the "Epilogue" of the concerto is slow, too; the atmosphere of the last movement is unreal, mysterious. The solo part at the end consists largely of the broken, multiphonic sounds of the clarinet. The Concerto fades out into a silence.

I composed the Clarinet Concerto during last autumn (2005).

© Kalevi Aho 2006


2222 3221 01 1, euph, str, cl solo [pic, ehn, cl in es, bcl, cbsn]


Works for Soloist(s) and Orchestra


Martin Fröst, clarinet, BBC Symphony Orchestra, cond. Osmo Vänskä, London, April 22, 2006


I Tempestoso, II Cadenza, III Vivace, con brio, IV Adagio, Mesto, V Epilogo (Misterioso)

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by the Borletti-Buitoni Trust for Martin Fröst

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