Richard Lambert Music

Cantilena for clarinet and piano (Op.11c)

A lyrical piece for clarinet and piano borrowing freely from pop, jazz and rock styles

This version of Cantilena (Op.11) was arranged in 2008. The original version was written in 1987 for alto saxophone and piano. Its title derives from its prominent use of sustained, smooth-flowing melodic lines; indeed the melody was recycled from an arietta from the opera, Yellow Earth Ridge, which has since been withdrawn by the composer.

Cantilena tries to capture a popular flavour, borrowing freely from pop, jazz and rock styles: primary and secondary chords are used in arpeggiated piano figures, as mainstream ballads might do; pedal notes are a feature, especially on the tonic note; and a ‘bluesy’ style emerges in the third main theme.

A pseudo-rock style is twice used on the climax section, which acts as a song-like chorus.

Cantilena is in the key of D flat major overall, but even the introduction uses ‘wrong-note’ harmony (notably flattened sevenths) to produce ambiguous tonality. The piece demonstrates a range of tone colour for the clarinet across a wide melodic range.


Cantilena for clarinet and piano is in the repertoire list for the 2019 clarinet (grade 6, List B) London College of Music examinations.


This recording of Cantilena was produced using computer software called Sibelius: it is not a live recording.


You can purchase Cantilena in Cameos for clarinet and piano (FM 618) from Forton Music.

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