Concerto for Clarinet and Strings was written at the turn of 2018/2019 and is dedicated to Radovan Cavallin since it was written to mark his 50th birthday, his nearly equally long career in playing clarinet and our friendship that has lasted almost as long.
I also used to be a clarinetist and was his father Giovanni’s student. However, with Radovan alive and kicking that did not make much sense and, as I was an ambitious and rational young man, I decided to become a composer. He is the one to blame and I am grateful to him to this day!
Back in the day, sometime in the late 1980s, when we were playing the clarinet together, I tried to write my first compositions. For clarinet, of course, since I wanted to play them myself as it was unlikely that somebody else would want to learn something that difficult which was, on the top of that, written by a child. However, another child liked it, and that was Radovan, who already had one or two degrees. In two hours, he learned to play what I had been practicing for two months. So my Elegy and Rondo for clarinet and piano found their way into his repertoire, along with concertos by Jean Françaix, Henri Tomasi and other composers I had not heard of, nor had they heard of me.
Commemorating the 30th anniversary of that crucial moment in my career, Radovan and I in 2018 produced a record (an album or a CD) where a recording of Elegy and Rondo were published, along with my newest works for clarinet: Two Reminiscences. They reminiscence Elegy and Rondo thirty years later. Or should I put it: how 47-year-old me cleans the mess left by the 17-year-old me. Oh yes, on that album we have also included compositions for clarinet by composers like Anđelko Klobučar, Dubravko Detoni, Emil Cossetto and a couple of others I have heard of, and who had heard of me too.
Radovan and I liked our collaboration so much that we struck another deal: now when we are two men on the top of our careers, and still capable of playing and composing, I shall write a clarinet concerto and Radovan shall premiere it. So it was!
– Antun Tomislav Šaban