While this concerto is distinctly a modern piece it has strong Classical and Romantic antecedents. The Classical elements are the simple title, which offers no sense of story, the movement titles “Lamentation” and “Dance”, which are only very general indications of attitude, and the very direct formal construction, particularly of the second movement. I might even say that formally the piece harkens back to the Baroque toccata and fugue – a free improvisatory movement followed by a strictly formal and rhythmically energized second movement.
The Romantic elements are in the qualities of expression. I have long counted Franz Liszt as a spiritual ancestor, and as a young clarinetist I made my way through the concerto pieces of Carl Maria von Weber – lots of notes, speed, and powerful personal expression in both these composers.
And yet this is very much a piece of our time. We are going through a major world change, possibly the major world change, with technological advances whipping us along at incredible speeds. With the advent of instant communication and information we are at last beginning to see and understand the human race as one entity, and in immediate relationship with the rest of creation. This huge shift requires intense dream time, especially conscious dream time, and music powerfully opens this dream space. “Lamentation:” a deep mourning as we view our personal troubles, and the troubles of the world; “Dance:” a springing leap forward into a new world.
Program Note by David Maslanka