First performance on 19 January 2013 at the Auditorio Adán Martín in Santa Cruz de Tenerife by Cristo Barrios (clarinet) and the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev.
Can the transcendent and the comic be combined, the abysmal and the light? What for others would be expressive nonsense is resolved with apparent simplicity by Nino Díaz, who delights in the oxymoron. He had already shown signs of this when he imagined the devil himself dancing before God in Las siete vidas de Elohim (The Seven Lives of Elohim). Paradox motivates the author of Clarinet Concerto n. 2, who uses the different registers not as a contrast or dialectical opposition, but as an unexpected outcome of a situation, like a magic trick that breaks all expectations by showing a portentous plasticity in the sonorous matter. It is worth bearing in mind that the very protagonist of the work, the clarinet to which the composer from the Canary Islands has devoted half his life, combines the chalumeau and clarinet registers in the same instrument. This multiple personality of the soloist is not a problem of identity, but the key to a fluid dialogue with the orchestra, taking ideas from it and projecting them back into the ensemble.
The beginning of the work (Moderato), shows a staticism broken by paroxysmal agitations, counterpoint and obstinati. It is linked to a section (Allegro) with a surprising start: a hilarious dialogue between soloist, tuba and bass drum to which new elements are added. Four drums are used as metal drums. After a formidable tutti begins a chapter (Andante) of introspection not lacking in solemnity, which contrasts radically with the final part (Vivace), full of rhythmic brilliance that leads to the quotation of some measures of the fugue in B major from The Well-Tempered Clavier I. The composer confesses a passion for baroque music, and especially for Bach, to whom he pays tribute here. But beware, Díaz surprises once again by skipping the exposition and starting in the middle of the fugue.
The counterpoint asserts itself as a crucial element in the development of the work. It is astonishing, in a concerto for a non-polyphonic instrument, that this technique is so important: is it a problem to approach baroque music while still making music of today, or to interweave tonal and atonal passages? For the author there is no difficulty.
Why should there be for the listener?