Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Christopher Norton
Christopher Norton is well-known throughout the world for his compositions for piano, particularly the Microjazz series, published by Boosey & Hawkes, and Connections for Piano, published by CN Connections Music. His music is popular with piano students as well as professional performers, because he writes well for the piano, has a subtle blend of jazz, pop and classical influences and has a distinctive style of writing that appeals to a wide range of audiences. The Sonata for Clarinet and Piano was written in 2012 for Katie Canell, clarinet player for the Horizon Ensemble, from Milton Keynes in the UK. The idea was to write an accessible piece that audiences would enjoy even on first hearing!
The first movement, Chasing my Tail, is an extrovert, upbeat piece with a very positive main theme contrasted with a more lyrical melody. The ideas jostle for attention as the movement develops, building to a very lively ending.
A Cool Day is a slow, cool and jazzy piece, with a leisurely piano introduction leading to a ruminative clarinet theme, underpinned by a quietly rhythmic piano accompaniment, becoming more soulful as it progresses. A new idea maintains the brooding atmosphere, rising and falling before a restatement which provides further subtle variations. The clarinet plays simple arpeggios as the piece fades to black.
Always in Motion is another extrovert piece, mainly in 5/8. The second theme provides contrasting melodic ideas and tonality, but the drive of the piece leads inexorably to a canonic restatement and an irrepressible ending.