The Interloping Beguiler: for Bass Clarinet and Orchestra

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The Interloping Beguiler is an nineteen-minute concerto in four movements for bass clarinet solo and orchestra. The title refers to the role of the solo instrument, which continually thrusts itself into the affairs of the orchestra, deceiving and diverting the members of the orchestra away from their task of performing a "serious" orchestral composition. The bass clarinet portrays a comical, cartoon-like character whose awkward, and sometimes goofy, interjections cause chaos. Attempts are made by various members of the orchestra, especially the horns, to regain control of the work, but the bass clarinet always succeeds in its distracting antics. By the final movement of the composition, the bass clarinet has propelled the work into a cartoon-like landscape of quickly changing textures, dissonant intervals, and overlapping themes.

The first movement, Introduction, sets the serious tone of the music to follow, or so it would seem. The entrance of the bass clarinet immediately changes this texture with its out-of-rhythm alternations between high and low pitches. This gesture provides a glimpse into the personality of the bass clarinet, an instrument here to mislead the members of the orchestra.

Deception truly begins in the second movement, The Interloping Initiates. The bass clarinet starts the movement with a driving theme and is immediately supported by the orchestra. As the movement progresses, the bass clarinet quickly begins altering the theme, making it more playful and cartoonish. A struggle ensues between the horns and the bass clarinet, with the bass clarinet catapulting the piece into a latin-inspired section. The struggle continues through to the end of the movement.

The third movement, Calm, is exactly what the title suggests. A sectional form distinguishes this movement from the second movement. Throughout Calm, the bass clarinet behaves with decorum, except for very large melodic leaps.

The seed of anarchy planted by the bass clarinet in the second movement comes to fruition in the final movement, The Beguiling Builds. Here, the bass clarinet sends the work into chaos with sections recalling Looney Tunes cartoons, Hollywood western music, and children's folk songs.