Two American Sketches (1996)

Song of the Prairie

Atlantic City Rock

Premiere Performance: 1996
Karen Dannessa, clarinet; Henry Grabb, English Horn

Instrumentation: Clarinet and English horn

Duration: 11 ¾ minutes

Commissioned by Karen Dannessa and Henry Grabb.
Recorded on Farracone Records.

From “American Lyrique” by Thomas Josenhans in The Clarinet, volume 30, number 4:

“Two American Sketches for clarinet and English horn by Mark Sforzini is a great addition to this disc.  Sforzini has been principal bassoonist of the Florida Orchestra since 1992, and has written several works for wind instruments.  The sketches were commissioned by [Karen] Dannessa and Henry Grabb.  The combination of English horn and clarinet is rarely heard outside of the orchestral setting, and the resulting sound is refreshing.  Grabb’s and Dannessa’s playing truly complements each other, and their musical maturity is revealed in their excellent ensemble.  The work is made up of two contrasting movements: “Song of the Prairie” and “Atlantic City Rock.”  The first overly exploits the personality of each instrument and is reminiscent of the “Largo” of Dvorak’s New World Symphony.  “Atlantic City Rock” is a stark contrast: it is a funkier movement that has a groove found nowhere else on this disc.  Both humorous and clever, one cannot help but imagine two mischievous students sneaking around looking for a good time.  The only criticism of these sketches is that there are only two.  Sforzini obviously has a great imagination, and it would be great to hear what else he could cook up for the English horn and clarinet.”