Gwyneth Walker

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano: "Genesis"


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Download a PDF file of selected sample pages from the full piano score of this composition.

Download a PDF file of selected sample pages from the clarinet part of this composition.

The Sonata for Clarinet and Piano was composed in response to the recent Tsunami devastation to the land and peoples bordering the Indian Ocean. Images of complete devastation filled the media. It appeared that in some areas, all traces of civilization and humanity had been washed away. The land lay clear, barren and unformed. It was as though the world was starting anew. There was only the sea and the land.

And yet many creatures, guided by their natural instincts, had escaped annihilation. They had fled to higher ground. And then, in the face of immense loss, survivors emerged. A resilient human spirit came forth.

This sonata is entitled "Genesis." For, it springs from images of the beginning of the world: the sea and the land, then the creatures on the earth, and then the human spirit rising to the heavens above.

The first movement, "The Sea and the Land," focuses on images of the waves, as portrayed by the piano. The clarinet presents slowly rising lines. Perhaps these represent the land rising from the sea. The tempi and dynamics increase with the rising lines, in the spirit of a triumphant creation. The forceful climax of this movement then yields to a playful passage, perhaps pre-announcing the arrival of the animals. Or simply, of energy. The music then recedes into the opening wave patterns.

The creatures arrive in the second movement, with bouncy joy. There are mostly hopping creatures, although some "heavier-footed" ones might be heard. The glissandi are related to birds in flight.

"The Heavens Above" (the human spirit reaching to the heavens above) is less visually-inspired than the previous two movements. This music is intended as a testament to the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity. There is a reaching up to heaven. The musical lines are often rising, either stepwise or in ascending intervals of 6ths. The closing cadenza in the clarinet rises from the depths of the range to the heights, effortlessly, as the soul reaching to heaven.

Notes by the composer