In November 1941 the clarinettist Benny Goodman expressed an interest in commissioning a clarinet concerto from Britten. It is not clear whether Britten ever received a formal commission or how far discussions went, but he sketched out a movement in short score in the following months. When Britten finally returned to England in March 1942, the US Customs impounded the sketch, along with several of his other manuscripts. Although he expressed the intention of completing the work in 1943, it never happened.
In 1990 I edited the sketch as a stand-alone movement, but it seemed to ask for a continuation. In 2007, I added two further movements. The central slow movement was adapted from the Mazurka elegiaca for two pianos, also composed in 1941, while for the finale I orchestrated an untitled and incomplete sketch from 1941-2, thought to be part of a projected Sonata for Orchestra. This cannot, of course, be Britten’s Clarinet Concerto in any real sense but by combining the first movement with music of high quality written at almost the same time I hope that I have devised a work that stands for what Britten hoped to write.
Categories: Arrangements and orchestrations, Orchestra