Malcolm Arnold

Clarinet Concerto No. 2, Op. 115

    Description by Chris Morrison

    Almost 20 years after it was composed, Arnold's Clarinet Concerto No. 1 was finally given its first American performance in October 1967. The soloist was Benny Goodman, who along with his acclaimed career in jazz performed extensively in the classical field and commissioned several new works for his instrument. Arnold had the chance to meet Goodman, and the latter suggested that Arnold compose a second clarinet concerto. Completed in Dublin in April 1974 and dedicated to Goodman "with admiration and affection," the Clarinet Concerto No. 2 was first performed at the Red Rocks Music Festival in Denver, CO, with Goodman as soloist and the Denver Symphony conducted by Brian Priestman.

    To the string orchestra of the Concerto No. 1 Arnold adds a handful of woodwinds, two French horns, and some percussion for the orchestra of the Concerto No. 2. The brief opening Allegro vivace opens with a sprightly, playful idea. After some energetic jumping about, a second, more melancholy theme is introduced. At this point, Arnold directs the soloist to improvise a cadenza "as jazzy and way-out as you please." A brief return of the opening music and a raucous coda close the movement. The nostalgic main theme of the more relaxed second movement, a Lento, gives way to more agitated music and a wandering passage in which a crescendo leads the music from the minor mode to the major. By way of contrast, the final movement, titled "The Pre-Goodman Rag," is a good-natured, jocular ragtime takeoff that closes the work in exciting fashion.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro vivace
    2. Lento
    3. Allegro non troppo (The Pre-Goodman Rag)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2014 Warner Classics 2564626220
    2012 Chandos CHAN 10739
    2011 Decca CDDCA922
    2004 Resonance 505
    2004 ASV / Resonance 506
    2001 Hyperion 55060
    2000 BIS 893
    2000 ASV 238
    1998 EMI Music Distribution 556652-2
    1995 ASV 922
    1993 Hyperion 66634