American composer Easley Blackwood (b. 1933) began this sonatina two weeks after he finished work on his sonata for clarinet in A, in 1994. He had chosen the lower of the two standard-size clarinets because it was lesser used in solo applications, and here he went further, writing for a member of the clarinet family that has been virtually ignored in chamber and solo music. (You ordinarily hear it squeaking away in grotesque orchestral situations such as the slatternly presentation of the idée fixe in Berlioz's "Symphonic fantastique" or when the hero gets hung in Strauss's "Till Eulenspiegel."
Blackwood in the later part of his career branched into two directions from his initial modernist music: He pursued an interest in exotic tunings and scales with extra notes in them, but at the same time began writing music in a conservative Romantic Era language. The prior sonata had been written in such a vocabulary, but sometimes reached to later Romanticism for expressive purposes, and furthermore used a non standard succession of keys. In this sonatina, since it is a shorter, simpler work, he simplified the style, staying in the rather Schumannesque harmonic vocabulary he adopted for it, avoiding the chromatic progressions of the companion work. The music is lyrical and more concerned in the lower register of the E flat instrument than the shrill top register.