After Hours

a concerto arranged for clarinet and piano
(2005, 2006)

This piece was originally written as a concerto for saxophone and band. That original version is also available through this website.

The first movement of this concerto begins slowly, depicting solitude and loneliness. Its subtitle, Soliloquy at Midnight, refers to that solitude, a general nighttime atmosphere and the feeling one might get while contemplating a jazz composition around the hour of midnight. Chime sounds are even layered in to suggest the chiming of a clock. Eventually, the tempo increases and more development takes place. Here, the performance technique of swing is sometimes used to suggest a jazz atmosphere. Still, a seriousness prevails and the movement culminates with a dramatic climax. The ending returns to the quiet, slow and lonely atmosphere of its beginning.

Tango, the second movement, was written because Chien-Yi Huang (who commissioned the original version) is fond of tangos and asked if I could include one for him. This tango, however, is not exactly traditional. It begins with the layering of different speeds of a traditional tango rhythm: some present long structural notes while others add accompaniment or melodic ideas. In this sense, it is rather like a distilled tango in which the essence of tango is made stronger and more pervasive while the original character is altered to become something new. I have also taken liberties to add some different rhythmic flavors that I have brought with me from the United States.

The subtitle of the final movement, After Hours, is a reference to the jazz players of old who would continue playing and experimenting after they had finished playing their paying "gigs". Although I have never experienced such a lifestyle myself, I find the image of such dedication to one's craft very inspiring. This movement is characterized by energy, drive, syncopation, dialogue, and a good deal of fast music.

(duration ca. 22 minutes)

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