Milhaud Suite for Violin, Clarinet and Piano

I was wondering if you would comment on your album “Music from Concordia”. I’m really interested in one of the selections of the CD. Is the piece by Darius Milhaud titled “Suite for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano”? I’m thinking about doing this piece on a college recital with a friend of mine that plays the violin. I read somewhere that this piece is great fun. Would this be a piece that could be put together within about three weeks? Would you be able to recommend where I would be able to get the music for this piece rather quickly? If I ordered the CD from you, is it possible to get it right away? Thank you in advance for your time and help.

It is midnight and I think I will write about this now as this is one of my most played works in my career. I know it very well and coached it with my teacher, Rosario Mazzeo.Darius Milhaud is one of the most prolific composers in the history of music, having composed over a thousand works including many for or including the clarinet. The Overture Suite is not the most important or impressive. The most incredible work, a work of historical importance, features the clarinet in a difficult solo; long, highly stylized and technically challenging – “La Creation Du Mond”, The Creation of the World, a score for the ballet completed in the early 20’s, 1923 I think. It features a chamber orchestra with saxophone, clarinet, flute, oboe, two trumpets, trombone, two violins, double bass, and a full set of trap drums. It is really a jazz piece, perhaps the best of its kind, for although written out it truly sounds like improvised music.Back to the Overture Suite: it is for violin, clarinet and piano and is from 1935. It is more stylistically challenging than technically, although it is far from easy, especially for the clarinet. It has quick and agile passages in the first, third and last movements, all in E major for the clarinet. On the recording, I played these movements on the A clarinet, which make them a piece of cake, as they say. If you have an A, consider this option. The first movement should be fast and light, perhaps as much as 132 for the quarter note. There are many octaves with the violin and clarinet, highly problematic, again because of the key and the voicing. You need a technically good pianist with very good rhythm and large hands for this movement; it remains in the same sprightly tempo throughout its short length. The second movement is a lullaby that changes tempi and again features tuning problems mostly because of the clarinet solo lying where it does on the instrument, along with the repeated legato octaves.The third movement is fun, but tricky rhythmically and technically. Again, choose the A clarinet if you have one and know how to transpose. It is for violin and clarinet only, and becomes difficult because the tempi must remain cohesive and there are several disparaging rhythms with which to deal.Movement four and five are really joined, one an overture of sorts leading into a pleasant and very French finale. They pose the most serious musical problems. Ending this piece is difficult; setting the right mood and the change of tempo present problems that have to be settled prior to performance.In three weeks? Depend on how much experience you have putting together chamber music. I would say yes if you are doing it with experienced chamber players and you are committed to the 6 or 8 rehearsal it will take, or should take. Do NOT make the mistake of underestimating the work because it casts a light shadow. It should sound like cafÈ music. If you are able to do this, you have cracked the problem in this Milhaud, but frequently that is not easy to do. If you are too jocular, you will blow it, making it sound trite and too light; the opposite is true as well. Learn your parts very well; if you all do, it will diminish the problems. Coach it with an experienced player, preferably one who has performed the piece.The music is available from Durand – any foreign music place should know how to get it. It should be in all performance libraries, too. Send me your address along with the price and I will send the CD to you immediately … don’t forget to include your address!Best of all good luck, and thanks again for you interest

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