8.5 Tishchenko: Concerto - Clarinet Music from Russia and the Soviet Union 1917-1991
CONCERTO op. 104
for Clarinet and String Trio (1990)
Boris Tishchenko (Борис Иванович Тищенко, 1939, Leningrad–2010, St Petersburg) started his composition studies in Leningrad with Galina Ustvolskaya and continued at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory with Vadim Salmanov. He accomplished his postgraduate studies with Dmitri Shostakovich and subsequently became professor of composition at the Leningrad / St Petersburg Conservatory.
Tishchenko composed the Concerto op.109 for clarinet (in B-flat) and piano trio in 1990, and it was published in 2001 (Tishchenko 2001). Concerto op.109 is a large-scale, multi-faceted chamber music work with both soloistic and symphonic characteristics. The title Concerto refers not primarily to a concerto in the classical sense with one solo instrument and orchestra accompaniment. Rather, it is a concerto for all four instruments in an intense chamber music context, just to mention the extensive piano solo in the second movement, for example. The relatively rare instrumentation – clarinet, violin, cello and piano – initially recalls Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps. At the same time, Tishchenko´s composition also shows strong symphonic qualities, especially reminiscent of Mahler.
Concerto op. 109 consists of three movements with a total duration of circa 30 minutes:
1. Allegro con moto
2. Allegro molto
3. Allegro non troppo
Video ex.8.5.1: Metsäkylä-theme (Tishchenko, Concerto, mvt. 1, mm. 1-26)
The first movement, Allegro con moto, bears the subtitle in Finnish “Metsäkylän muisto” (memory of a forest village). The clarinet playing alone opens this movement with a serene, somewhat melancholic melody (Video ex.8.5.1: Metsäkylä-theme). The melodic intonation brings to mind the beginning of Ustvolskaya’s Clarinet Trio, where the clarinet introduces the theme in a similar soft and legato atmosphere (see 5.3). The Concerto op. 109 meanders constantly between soloistic, chamber music and symphonic passages. In the first movement, clarinet solo passages alter with trios in various combinations among the four players.
 IIt remains unclear whether Tishchenko points at an imaginary place or concretely at the Karelian village of Metsäkylä (nowadays Molodyozhnoye, St Petersburg region), where battles took place during World War II.
Video ex.8.5.2: Unisono (Tishchenko, Concerto, mvt. 2, mm. 507-526)
The second movement, Allegro molto, is a double fugue, with constantly changing bar measures and insistent, repeated rhythmical patterns. The furious unison parts evoke musical reminiscences of Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la Fin du Temps, where the entire sixth movement is played in a unison of clarinet, violin, cello and piano. (Video ex.8.5.2: Unisono). The middle part of this movement is a massive piano solo, with the size and attitude of a cadenza from a piano concerto.
Video ex.8.5.3: As improvised (Tishchenko, Concerto, mvt. 3, mm. 226-241)
In the Finale, Allegro non troppo, the Metsäkylä theme returns, but in various, very different manners. In the middle section, the notation changes to free rhythm, and the performers react to each other without a steady meter (Video ex.8.5.3: As improvised). In the next section, collage-like fragments apruptly alternate with frenetic fortissimo passages (Video ex.8.5.4: Interrupted Metsäkylä-theme). The movement ends in a peaceful chorale. Concerto op.109 is a demanding composition for each of the instrumentalists and as ensemble.
Video ex.8.5.4: Interrupted Metsäkylä-theme (Tishchenko, Concerto, mvt. 3, mm. 293-316)
Anne Elisabeth Piirainen, clarinet
Kiril Kozlovsky, piano
Nonna Knuuttila, violin
Petja Kainulainen, cello
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2nd doctoral concert "Between Love and Hate"
12.05.2015, Helsinki Music Centre