The Rapido contest specs are theme and variations for clarinet, violin and piano. It’s a nice plan for a two-week sprint. I had been thinking about writing another piece for my friends in the Opal Ensemble, which is clarinet, viola and piano, so maybe I’ll be able to adapt this one. It’s better not to think about that now — focus on the potential of the violin, not of limiting the part to a lower common baseline.
I created my theme right away. It’s got several short phrases that contrast — a singing and sighing legato, a cascade of notes, and a rhythmic fragment for the closure. There’s a lot of material to vary. I worked on a variation first, then gave some thought to fleshing out the orchestration and accompaniment of the theme. I wrote down the theme on staff paper and recorded some improvs in Digital Performer. As I worked on each bit, I got it notated in Sibelius and continued tweaking and revising.