I have just spent some time with a new CD with music by Prof. Karl Henning!
Irreplaceable Doodles and Out in the Sun are what I listened to this morning: I had seen the opening page of the first work, for solo clarinet, and so had some idea of the opening, which is fun and spritely and matches the title.
What I was not prepared for were the fascinating monologues or soliloquies in the heart of the piece. I fear to present my personal program, lest other potential listeners be biased, but I imagined the melancholy clown as a symbol for the work. While zipping around to entertain you, the clown has a serious story inside for you to hear, and he stops, in between his leaping dancing moments, to tell you this story. If it is not quite melancholy, it is at least serious, and its expressivity of various emotions allows you to understand his light-heartedness even better. I listened to Irreplaceable Doodles 3 times in a row, and was ever more charmed by those mysterious monologues. The composer is the performer, and the echoing effect of where it was performed helped maintain this arcane atmosphere.
If transcribed for violin, I can see where world-class violinists would want to play it, perhaps as an encore.
Out in the Sun is for a wind orchestra, including saxophones, and partially shows the composer's version of a kind of pointillistic minimalism. Chattering, hectic and insectic, the work intersperses calmer, lazier moments "out in the sun" for contemplation, sometimes with the same kind of marvelous monologues mentioned above, but also of course multi-voiced conversation. The funky saxophone dialogue sticks in my mind, and of course there are clarinet sections of great beauty. The composer also gives the tuba a good work-out toward the end! And then apparently the sun sets unwillingly on this illuminated and illuminating scene.
There were war whoops of approval from the audience!