Prelude for solo clarinet
This composition, just over three minutes long, was written in 1987 as a present for the British composer Paul Patterson on his 40th birthday. It was not the first time that Penderecki made someone a gift of a solo miniature. He had even developed his own concept for such occasions; for instance, he notated the music without bar lines and left the performer a wide margin of interpretative freedom. The Prelude is based on a symmetrical arch form, both with respect to tempi (slow-fast-slow) and to sound material. It opens with a single, quiet, pulsating G note, which transforms into a “sighing motif” typical of Penderecki. This motif gradually moves upward to higher registers, surrounded by more and more sounds and their combinations. After reaching the fortissimo culmination, the motif moves back to a lower register, the music calms and we return musically to the starting point.