||"Concerto # 1 by Johann Melchior Molter has been arranged for Clarinet Choir by Dr. William OíNeil. The standard Bb Clarinet as soloist has been scored, but Dr. OíNeil has also written the soloist part to be played by Eb Clar. or Eb Alto Clar. or Eb Contra-Alto Clar.
Johann Melchior Molter was a slightly younger contemporary of Bach and
Handel. He composed some of the very earliest clarinet concerti.
Unfortunately these were for the clarinet in D, an extremely rare
instrument today. Consequently these wonderful works are mostly
While it is possible to play them on the E-flat clarinet, the key
signature becomes very unwieldy. Or, it is possible to play them as
written for the D clarinet but on the E-flat, making it necessary to
transpose all the orchestral parts and making your string players very
unhappy because they are then playing in some very exotic keys (five or
six flats). Also, a fifteen to twenty-minute work featuring the E-flat
clarinet (or the D Clarinet for that matter) can be very abrasive.
The solution is to play them on the A Clarinet, a much more common
instrument, so the key signature is only one sharp or flat removed from
the original. Most of the solo part of each piece is then dropped an
octave, putting the music in a very palatable range for the soloist and
for the audience. What may be lost in authenticity is more than gained
back by the fact that otherwise these delightful pieces would never be
heard by most audiences.
A further step is to take the new A clarinet part and to leave it alone
but to transpose the accompaniments for clarinet choir. This has the
benefit of introducing these works to the clarinet choir repertoire,
leaving all the players in comfortable keys, and NOT requiring the
soloist to learn the music twice.