Alice Mary Smith: Short Orchestral Works

Alice Mary Smith Short Orchestral Works RRMNETC78

Andante for Clarinet and Orchestra, [2] Intermezzi from The Masque of Pandora
Recent Researches in Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, 78
Edited by Ian Graham-Jones
ix, 2, 65pp. ISBN 978-1-9872-0452-0. $144

This is the latest of several volumes Ian Graham-Smith has devoted to Alice Mary Smith. An acknowledged expert on the lady and her output, his introduction to these three works is positively bulging with background information.

The clarinet solo began its life as the middle movement of a sonata with piano. The dedicatee and original performer, Henry Lazarus, commissioned the orchestration and played it with universal approbation. Whether or not the composer (who had also been the “accompanist” at its premiere) ever produced a full concerto (as it is described in at least some of the press coverage of performances) is unclear.*

The two intermezzi also originated in a larger work, this time a “grand choral cantata” setting words by Longfellow. “After the storm”, an Andante movement moving from common time into 9/8 then back again, was transposed from its original B flat minor down a semitone to facilitate a more gentle segue into “In the garden”, which is in A major and 9/8.

These are, indeed, brief pieces – at 148 bars, the clarinet solo is longer than both of the others put together. Yet, there is a charm to all three (and not a little virtuosity about the Andante for clarinet!) which makes them ideal introductions to the composer and her music.

Brian Clark

* The publisher also lists two parts for clarinet and piano of just this work for $10.