for solo clarinet and wind ensemble
In 1985 I was commissioned to write a Clarinet Concerto for that prince of English clarinettists, Jack Brymer, who celebrated his seventieth birthday in that year. I dedicated the concerto to Jack who gave the first performance with his accustomed impeccable style and skill. The last movement: Variazione al Rondo, always struck me as a candidate for rescoring for wind ensemble, and Rondo Variations is the result.
The soloist introduces the rondo theme, which is tailor-made for the instrument. Nine variations follow, which both develop the theme and encapsulate new material, including a slower middle section (variations six, seven and eight), which has its own internal structure: Andante – Allegretto – Andante con moto. In the Finale (variation nine), recurring themes are further developed, and the soloist introduces a new tune with a distinctly Gallic flavour, before reminding us of the original statement.
The original Clarinet Concerto was commissioned by the Beauchamp Sinfonietta in 1985, with generous support from Mercia Sound, the Coventry-based independent radio station serving Coventry and Warwickshire.
Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire
USA Band Grade 5
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Polyphonic QPRM 137D Linda Merrick, clarinet
Dinmore Records DRD 272 world-wide-woolfenden
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Solo Clarinet & Wind Orchestra
Press & Public Reviews
Rondo Variations was a sheer pleasure to listen to with humour and wit abundant in this chamber music-like work.
Guy Woolfenden’s Rondo Variations is a graceful work written in a beguilingly simple style that skilfully avoids an overtly saccharine flavour. The rondo theme exploits well the instrument’s character with playful leaps across wide intervals, a compact variation form that takes the listener through a series of mood changes away from the quirkiness of the opening towards more plangent and fluid melodic lines in the slower section. Merrick and the orchestra combine to make these changes highly effective.
The Rondo Variations is originally the last movement of a clarinet concerto written by Guy Woolfenden in 1985 for Jack Brymer. The theme is a semi-angular Coplandesque diatonic ditty treated to nine variations. The scoring for wind ensemble is excellent and the music is completely listenable and suave.