American Standard, a lyrical and macabre recital showpiece for clarinet and piano, is included on the U.K. label Clarinet Classics release “TIME PIECES: 60 Years of American Music” featuring clarinettist Peter Furniss and pianist David Leiher-Jones.
Originally written for Peter Furniss and pianist Gareth Hunt in 1993, this single-movement work has an overtly theatrical aspect, harkening back to the composer’s spiritual home in musical theater. A dialogue is established between two contrasting but thematically related sections. The slow, lyrical, aching theme heard at the outset becomes interspersed with a second that is more mischievous, even grotesque in character. Constant development of this faster material provides a means of pushing forward with considerable virtuosity to the composition’s rather resigned conclusion, where both themes (and moods) are finally juxtaposed.