Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra 2006
This concerto is offered as a divertissement: a lyrical start, a dreamy nostalgic middle section and a playful and tongue-in-cheek (Kletzmer) second theme and a virtuoso last section.
The instrumentation of the orchestra seems to lend itself perfectly for a French, almost impressionistic atmosphere of quality of sound. The soloist is given every opportunity to show his mastery of every aspect of his instrument. Unlike most of the other works of Zwaag in which there often appears a serious undertone, this concerto gives us a lightness which provoke feelings of great joy for the performers and audience. Beautiful themes contrast with one another, the touching melody often acting as a contrast to the occasional frivolous mood of the piece.
Cello Concerto "The Changing Colours in Time" 2003
The concert opens with a statement at the beginning of the large main theme by the orchestra, after which the Cello comes in and "sings" the whole theme.
Because of this grand-chant opening and the recapitulation of the same theme at the end of the Concerto - which, by that time, has a completely different "taste" or colour - the title of the concert was chosen to be "The Changing Colours in Time".
The title of the work refers to the reappearance of the same melody at different stages of the composition, which provides diversity of harmonic and melodic colours. Zwaag uses this technique; repeating the opening theme, transformed into another colour by the intervening concerto, to herald the end of the piece.
An outstanding feature of this composition is the opening section, which runs to 52 bars, and contains one of the longest melodies within Zwaag’s oeuvre. Working together with clear form and structure, Zwaag succeeds in combining the emotional and the rational; ultimately the most important ingredients of composition..
The opening melody is followed by a rhapsodic treatment, all taken from the main theme. An unusual feature of the piece is the accompaniment of the slow movement, in which the cello “sings its song’ above the lyric accompaniment of piano, vibraphone, harp and strings. There follows a technically demanding fast section, culminating in a virtuoso cadenza. The original grand opening theme returns and the concerto closes on an heroic note.
The Variations were commissioned by the Asturias Mozart Festival .
The festival organizers requested a work for piano and orchestra taking a theme from Mozart’s music to be performed on the same evening at the festival as The Mozart Requiem. Zwaag made the decision to base his variations on the First Movement of the Requiem, deliberately misleading the expectations of the audience; at the moment that the Chorus should enter the piece, the audience will be surprised by the sound of a piano in its place.
As soon as “the Variations” begin, the original solemn and moving atmosphere of the piece is turned within 6 measures into a dramatic explosion of pathos, bravura and “spielfreundigkeit”, with a slow romantic middle section and a virtuoso finale.
In the extensive quotation from the First Movement, there is no single theme, but many different motifs. As the themes are randomly employed the piece does not contain strict variations on a theme, but are used in a random manner. The lyrical middle section alone stands out as an independent variation.