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This contemporary chamber music with clarinet, viola, and piano is upbeat and lively, with a fierce edge. With a five-minute duration, it will fit on many concert programs between longer pieces.
“Focal Point is off-kilter, off-beat, syncopated, but obsessively focusing on the central pitch of G. Focus shifts later to Bb, then back to G, with the end somewhat unresolved. The three players have a lot of unison moments but the rhythm is constantly shifting. Melodic fragments and sharp chords are constantly interrupting. The clarinet and viola play conversationally, both together and back and forth. Later the piano joins in the cycling cascades of notes.
You’ll hear the opening clarinet solo come back in many forms. By the end, all three musicians are playing a forceful variation of that melody, in octaves. Listen for the many texture changes, as clarinet, viola and piano examine many playing styles.”
Written for the Opal Ensemble (although they hadn’t chosen their name at that time): Todd Brunel, clarinet; Anne Black, viola; Paul Carlson, piano.
First performance on March 22, 2013 by the Opal Ensemble at the Vortex Series for New and Improvised Music, Brookline, MA
Listen to the Focal Point premiere recording at SoundCloud, recorded live.