Four Humors for clarinet & piano

Four Humors
for clarinet & piano (1992)
American Composers Alliance
& Centaur CD, ca. 17 minutes

Four Humors is a virtuoso piece for clarinet and piano that was commissioned by the Music Teachers’ National Association for premiere at the annual conference of the Massachusetts Chapter in October, 1992. The piece was completed with the assistance of a residency at the Palenville Interarts Colony in the mountains of New York state.

The music has several opportunities for solo clarinet improvisation and various rhythmic and harmonic echoes of blues, particularly in the third movement. The second movement is a moto perpetuo for the piano. The last movement is expansive and joyous. The four movements are titled Phlegmatic, Choleric, Melancholy, and Sanguine, titles derived from the four humors described in Greek physiology.

The music was written specifically for premiere by classical and jazz clarinetist Chester Brezniak (pictured above) accompanied by the composer. The two musicians also performed the piece at the New School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on WGBH-FM in Boston, and at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Four Humors has also been performed by other musicians on the Marblehead Festival, by the Great Noise Ensemble in Washington, DC, and at the Crane School of Music in NY. In 2002 Chester Brezniak and Jeffrey Chappell performed the piece at the New School of Music and recorded it for a Centaur compact disc.