This week, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents clarinetist Anthony McGill, in his LACO debut, on a Baltic-influenced program led by conductor Thomas Dausgaard.

Anthony, who serves as the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic, made his NY Phil solo debut on Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto. The concert marked the end of The Nielsen Project — a multi-year focus on Denmark’s beloved composer — that culminated with Anthony’s performance on the Clarinet Concerto.

“You hear these passages,” describes Anthony in an NY Phil Youtube video about the project, “usually introduced by the entire string section, just playing away with such emotion and the clarinet soaring on top.”

“You hear these passages — usually introduced by the entire string section — just playing away with such emotion and the clarinet soaring on top.”
— Anthony McGill on Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto

From the program notes

Danish composer Carl Nielsen was in his sixties when he composed this work, and much has been made about the sense of conflict—intensified by the use of the snare drum—in this piece. There are two key signatures at odds, but also a great sense of friendly conversation around the main lilting theme, which appears throughout the entire first section. This interplay is contrasted with a lengthy cadenza that thrusts the soloist into the spotlight.

Danish composer Carl Nielsen
Danish composer Carl Nielsen

The second tempo, a Poco Adagio, is introduced by two bassoons and the horn. The soloist enjoys a brief break before coming in with their own variation on the second theme. The tranquility does not last, as the pace picks up and the snare’s steady hits interrupt.

In the next section, the solo takes on an almost dance-like character; a second cadenza appears, this one more percussive than the first.

This leads into the final section, where familiar gestures return, including references to the opening tune. One gets the feeling that Nielsen will end things in a rollicking mood, but instead, he chooses a gradual slowdown to a surprising and much quieter ending.

explore & listen

See Anthony perform Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, October 27, 8 pm, at the Alex Theatre, and Sunday, October 28, 2018, 7 pm, at Royce Hall.

Listen to Anthony in his NY Phil solo debut, performing the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto on soundcloud:

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

This project is supported, in part, by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

These concerts are sponsored by Genesis.

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