Déjà vu begins with a possibly annoying clarinet lick. It leads the ensemble through a meandering maze of different sections, all in triple time, with varying degrees of waltziness, before ending, unsatisfyingly, with a memory of the opening material. The second movement is all undulating string chorales, with a climactic but disappointingly short appearance of the bass clarinet. The third movement is a quasi-repetition of the first (hence the work’s title), but with some bits extended, truncated, transposed, etc. I had very high hopes for this piece. I intended for it to be a Serious Clarinet Quintet, right up there with Mozart and Brahms. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but I hope it’s still reasonably enjoyable and engaging, on its own humbler terms.
clarinet and string quartet
Jonathan Russell and JACK Quartet on April 15, 2014