for bass clarinet and bassoon (2019–21)


bass clarinet and bassoon
Commissioned by:
The Sheldon Arts Foundation, St. Louis

Performance Score available for purchase


Gz III has two versions. Version II (16 minutes) is an elaboration of Version I (7 minutes). While the composer prefers Version II, Version I may be performed should there be a constraint on performance time. The two versions are not meant to be played sequentially! Gz is an abbreviation of the German word Gestaltzerfall, or “shape decomposition,” a psychological phenomenon where one experiences a temporary loss of the ability to recognize certain letters, particularly often experienced in Japanese Kanji, the characters that originally come from China. The works in my Gz series—all scored for two instruments—explore the plausible affects of the psychological phenomenon: uncertainty, doubt, impermanence, loss, and the will to break away from them through an attempt at recovering the memory.

Commissioned by the Sheldon Arts Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri, Gz III is scored for bass clarinet and bassoon. I chose these two instruments because I had not written a piece that predominantly featured these two instruments, and I had the strong desire to explore their instrumental possibilities. Furthermore, even though my primary instrument is the clarinet, I have always had the anxiety of writing for it (Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg once stated that writing for piano—his primary instrument—was like going through a lie detector, the sentiment to which I fully relate). I also was away from actively performing the instrument in public for some fifteen years; however, a few critical events last year rekindled my desire to take up the clarinet again.

Thus, as far as the bass clarinet part is concerned, it is written partly for myself in mind to overcome the anxieties, both of writing for and of performing the instrument. I also thank Leigh Muñoz for so enthusiastically agreeing to collaborate on this project together, and showing me various bassoon playing techniques, which proved to be essential for writing this piece.


Performance History

03/06/2020 WP
Yoshiaki Onishi, bass clarinet
Leigh Muñoz, bassoon
Sheldon Concert Hall, St. Louis
St. Louis Classical All-Stars

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