A Poem for Clarinet and Orchestra


Writing a concerto is a great pleasure:
It gives the composer the opportunity to focus on a solo instrument, and to find and utilize its specific character and potential.

When writing for a particular musician, there is also the privilege of working with a fantastic individual, spending time together trying things out.


Writing a concerto is a great challenge:
The composer must consider how the soloist can relate to the orchestra in ways that are interesting and musically meaningful to all: the soloist, the orchestra and the audience. This relationship should take advantage of the musical and technical skill of the soloist, at the same time as the performance must not turn into a performance with the soloist in the spotlight and all the others just become almost superfluous on the sidelines.

As a musical form, the solo concerto has a tainted but interesting history, and raises the following issues: the individual at the center of the collective, the individual emerging from the collective, the individual against the collective.


Writing a concerto is time-consuming:
but gradually ideas take shape and gain contours. I wanted
– to find simple means for doing something different in terms of using the stage and the space. I don’t want it to be too predictable. (The soloist takes the stage. There is a fast movement followed by a slow movement and then another fast movement, concluding with a cascade of notes. The audience shouts “Bravo!” Not that.)

– to vary the sound quality of the clarinet throughout, like a kind of prism, and not too smooth.

– to experiment with extensive use of quarter tones, with a view to extending and expanding on the scales, as well as achieving a certain sense of roughness

– to compose short movements, the characters of which I wanted to be very different from one another, but where each one was strongly expressive.


The result was On a Distant Shore.

I composed this piece for Martin Fröst and for the Scottish and Swedish Chamber Orchestras.

The premiere performance was in Glasgow on 6 December 2002.


Nacka 17 January 2003
Karin Rehnqvist

Engl translation by Linda Schenck