Michael Kaulkin’s American Standard, for clarinet and piano, has been performed numerous times around the world since it was composed in 1993. It is included on the U.K. label Clarinet Classics release “TIME PIECES: 60 Years of American Music” featuring clarinetist 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.