Sean Osborn, Quartet No. 1 for Four B-flat Clarinets, reviewed by Michele Gingras, The Clarinet, Vol. 32, No. 1, December 2004.




Clarinetist and composer Sean Osborn wrote this delectable quartet destined to be loved by audiences. Perfect for a recital ending, it should become a nice staple in the clarinet quartet repertoire. Although the work is indeed audience-friendly, it is challenging both for the musicians and listeners. Quartet No. 1 was premiered in New York City in 1996, and I had the opportunity to hear it performed at ClarinetFest in Oklahoma in 2000 by Sean Osborn, Michael Norsworthy, Kevin Schempf, and Eric Mandat.

The four relatively short movements are titled Moderate, Scherzo, Freely and Dorian Dance.

Moderate is flavored with folk elements, and the tune is hauntingly beautiful and appeasing, almost hypnotizing. The lively Scherzo includes a lot of rapid staccato and mixed meters, interspersed with calm harmonized sections. Freely reminisces Coplandís picturesque musical scenes, and impeccable unison and octave tuning is required by the players. Dorian Dance starts out as a simple tune, which is developed brilliantly, culminating in exciting rapid staccato. This piece tells a story, and both the story-teller and listener come out inspired in the end.

Beautifully engraved parts and superior paper quality make this a joy to read, and all parts allow convenient page turning. The four parts are relatively equal in difficulty and are very playable by an intermediate/advanced group. The duration is 10 minutes.