This article reviews the best clarinet solo music pieces that will fascinate you. Read on and discover.
Clarinet solos blow my mind any day and anytime. There is such a profound beauty in clarinet solos that I have been listening to recently that I would love to share with you in this article. You may discover new artists and solo clarinet pieces you have never encountered or better still, get to know more about your favorite clarinet solos as you read through my review of some of the best clarinet solos I have come across recently. Here are a few quick facts that you should know about solos before we proceed further:
- A musical solo whether instrumental or vocal is a piece of a musical composition or an arrangement written to be played by a single performer.
- The word solo is derived from the Italian language and is translated to mean alone. In music, it is used to refer to a piece of musical composition featuring a single performer performing alone or backed by a group of other musicians or instruments.
- Solos can be performed entirely by a single singer or instrumentalist or the performer can be supported by another accompanying instrument, band, or orchestra.
- Performing a solo is musically referred to as, “to solo”
- The performer of a solo piece of music is known as a soloist.
- Other pieces of music originally written for other instrumental solos have been adapted for the clarinet in modern arrangements.
- Clarinet solos can be part of orchestra compositions, sonatas, concertos, jazz or even traditional music arrangements.
What makes a great clarinet solo composition?
A lot of work, technical skill, creativity, and dedication to the craft go into making an exceptional solo clarinet musical piece. A great clarinet solo piece is determined by:
- The composers who wrote the clarinet solo
The best clarinet solos like all other types of music are products of the best minds and talents in the fields. The music shared here is composed and arranged by the best in the game across centuries. Great composers write music that outlive them and gain universal recognition across centuries and nations among music lovers.
- The Prominence of the clarinet in the music
The prominence given to the clarinet as the key instrument in leading the solos in these pieces during performances is the second factor that determines a great clarinet solo piece.
- The Musical Innovation
This list is biased towards solo clarinet music compositions that display exceptional innovation in the structure and style of composition and arrangement. Individual creativity and the ability of the composers of the best clarinet solos make the compositions listed in this article stand out from the pool.
How We Chose the Best clarinet solos?
Deciding on a clarinet solo to include in the list of the best is not a walk in the park because of the large number of extraordinary clarinet solo compositions out there but we did the selection based on clear criteria that guided us. Here are the four major things we considered to arrive at the list of the best clarinet solos:
The Techniques used by the composers of the clarinet solo pieces
The writing technique in the compositions was a game-changer when it came to settling on a list. Solo clarinet pieces are available in diverse genres and styles and looking at the technical skill of the composers displayed in the writing and arrangement is the surest way to settle on the best. The music in this list places a premium on the techniques used, individual creativity, and innovation from the composers while writing without forgetting the ability to go outside the common norms or the daring approach of fusing old and new techniques to create new improvisations that hit differently.
The prominence of the clarinet in the composition
The clarinet is the single most important instrument in the arrangement of a clarinet solo composition. If the clarinet loses its prominence in the music or cannot stand out, the written piece becomes a total flop. The best clarinet solo pieces listed here highlight allow the clarinet to shine whether in a solo performance or band and orchestra setups as the soloist is accompanied by other instruments.
The ability of the music to invoke strong feelings
The best music is music that can speak to you at a level that cannot be described in words. We settled on the solo pieces that allow the clarinet to not only shine but to speak to us profoundly.
The Fragments of Shadow and Light Bellafronte is a good example we found of music that traverses centuries to communicate solid ideas beyond the confines of conservativeness. Bellafronte’s music oozes freedom and liberation through the clarinet in a way that only a world-class clarinet best solo can.
Review of the Best Clarinet Solos of all time
Listed below are 7 of the best clarinet solo music from various artists that we found ranging from classical compositions to modern experimental formats cutting across diverse cultures, periods, and moments in history that will pique your interest ranked in no particular order:
Rabaud – Solo de Concours
The Solo de Concours was composed in 1901 by iconic French conductor and composer Henri Rabaud. It was his dedication to Charles Turban.
Rabaud wrote the music specifically for the clarinet accompanied by a piano but modifications and adaptations have been made oftentimes by musicians doing live performances of this clarinet solo masterpiece over the years which include adding more accompanying instruments apart from the piano in their new arrangements of Solo de Concours.
It is a conservative piece rooted in the classical romantic era with a touch of modernity capturing both the French conservatism of his era and depicting the beliefs Rabaud held dearly that modernism is an enemy. This piece was written for the French Conservatoire music competition and delivers on all aspects as a clarinet solo both in technicality, style, and reputation.
Mozart – Clarinet Concerto
Mozart’s clarinet concerto is the epitome of a classical timeless clarinet solo piece of music ever written. This goodbye composition Mozart wrote in October 1791 was a gift to his longtime friend and one of the best clarinetists of that era Anton Sadler. It was an instant hit when it first premiered on October 16, 1791, in Prague and remains a title contender among the best musical pieces composed for the clarinet hundreds of years later.
The clarinet concerto is a beautiful blend of a clarinet soloist and the orchestra flawlessly interplaying between them in three movements that will leave you completely blown away by the magic of the musical moment.
Korsakov – Flight of the Bumblebee
The flight of the bumblebee is a chaotic and rapidly changing piece of solo clarinet composition written by the Russian iconic composer, teacher, and conductor Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1899. The piece was written to mirror the bumblebee and was more opera-oriented though it is today among the most familiar classical works in modern pop culture due to its frequent use.
The music tells the story of Russian tsar Saltan. It is an intoxicating fusion of the realistic and romantic style of writing with an exotic earthly touch that makes it full of contradictions yet also a breath of fresh air in the same breath.
This solo piece is the evidence you need to ascertain that Korsakov was a fine musician with immense talent and to understand why he was and still is considered at the top of the list among the most respected public figures in Russian history.
The bumblebee clarinet solo composition has since moved away from the traditional opera and orchestral setup to adopt other forms in modern adaptations and performances and is among the favorites of clarinetists worldwide.
Bellafronte – Fragments of Shadow and Light for the Solo Clarinet
Fragments of shadow and light is a modern clarinet solo masterpiece written by the renowned Italian pianist, composer, and teacher Raffaele Bellafronte and first performed in 2005 at the Tokyo World Convention of Clarinet. The Fragments of Shadow and Light is an expression of Bellafronte’s ideas through audio as he retraces and re elaborates the strategies used in the previous centuries into new exciting music which has become his life’s dedication as a musician and an educator.
Belafonte’s music has surpassed his Italian roots and featured on mega stages across the world and this solo clarinet piece included in his album Da Vince Edition from the extraordinary composer is one of the best clarinet solos of the modern century you should listen to and try playing as a clarinet music enthusiast. The piece has been performed by many musicians globally across different stages and audiences. The music will challenge and inspire you to think outside the box even as you reconnect with the rich legacy of the past icons who defined the very roots of classical clarinet music compositions like Mozart and other classical music legends.
Rachmaninoff – 2nd Symphony clarinet solo
Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Symphony clarinet solo was written between 1906 and 1907 by one of the best Russian composers Sergei Rachmaninoff. The mind-blowing symphony premiered in 1918 in Saint Petersburg conducted by Rachmaninoff himself. This short and unique clarinet solo piece will grab and hold you captive for the entire two minutes of its duration and leave you appreciating the depth and the intensity of the beauty of clarinet solo music any day. You will appreciate checking it out.
Morricone – Love Theme for Solo clarinet
Love theme from cinema was written in 1928 by renowned Italian composers Andrea Morricone and Ennio Morricone. This riveting clarinet solo composition is one of the cinema masterpieces featured in the 1988 Italian drama film Cinema Paradiso based on the story of the Protti family from Italy.
The love theme from Cinema Paradiso is a truly outstanding piece of cinematic musical writing that received the coveted BAFTA award for the best original film score testifying to the composition’s extraordinary quality
The composition will blow your mind. It explores the themes of childhood and manhood, love and youth using well-thought clarinet notes and rhythms expertly weaved together using an exceptional technique that only those true music mavericks like the Morricones’ can muster.
Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake Op. 20 Clarinet Solo
The Swan Lake Op. 20 is an emotionally-charged melodious classical ballet written by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. The solo clarinet composition was not immediately popular but has become one of the most popular ballets of all time due to the film Billy Elliot starring Natalie Portman.
The solo has been featured in cinema and delivered exactly the desired effect which is one reason you should look for this clarinet solo and give it a listen if you have not listened to it yet. It will make you appreciate the finesse of a well-written clarinet solo and challenge you as a clarinetist to explore newer levels with the instrument.
Clarinet solos are beautiful pieces of music. The world is filled with a wide variety of clarinet solos from a myriad of artists and geographical regions but it takes something more than just the clarinet or a solo musical composition and arrangement or performance to get the best piece of a clarinet solo. This article reviewed some of the best clarinet solos based on the expertise of the composers, the level at which the music can connect with us, and most importantly, the prominence given to the clarinet within the written music as the instrument that should shine and carry the performance. There are many other outstanding clarinet solos that you will find out there so go and start looking from the inspiration you have gained from this article. You are guaranteed to get better as you take the journey of discovering more additional clarinet solo pieces both as a clarinet solo music lover or a musician.
What is the difference between a clarinet solo and a clarinet concerto?
A clarinet solo is a composition written and arranged to be performed by a solo performer with a clarinet. The solo performer can be accompanied by other instruments but with the clarinet remaining as the soloist’s instrument during the performance. A clarinet concerto, on the other hand, is a piece of music composition written and arranged with the clarinet as the main instrument but within an orchestra. Take note that a clarinet concerto can include segments within the arrangement that have clarinet solos.
What makes a clarinet solo musical piece different from a clarinet Sonata?
A clarinet solo is mainly composed and arranged to be performed with the clarinet acting as the soloist in the performance while a sonata will include the clarinet in the performance but with a singer acting as the soloist. A clarinet solo may not have a singer. A clarinet solo can be included as noted earlier in a clarinet concerto or a clarinet sonata composition.
What is considered the best piece of a clarinet solo?
Worldwide recognition, originality, the composer, awards won and recognition, popularity among performers and audiences and the unique characteristics of a clarinet solo composition are the fundamental considerations that elevate a clarinet solo to the status of being considered the best among the rest.
Can music not originally written for the clarinet be turned into a clarinet solo?
Yes! Various compositions written originally for piano and guitar or violin solos have been improvised and modified in modern times for the clarinet as experimentation, creativity and the need to move away from the confines of a boxed way of approaching music writing, composition and arrangement gain more traction. Hymns like Amazing Grace are a few examples of musical pieces that have been presently adopted and improvised for clarinet solos.
Can a clarinet solo be included in an orchestra set up?
Yes! A clarinet solo can be included in portions of an orchestra performance during the arrangement of the movements. An orchestra performance may include interludes within the performance that allow the clarinetist to either play solo or to play along as a soloist accompanied by the other instrumentalists hence amounting to a clarinet solo within and opera whether as a concerto, a sonata or even a film score.