Sonata for Clarinet and Piano
‘A Trillion Miles of Darkness’
duration: 23’
GRT • 190


score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
I. desolate
II. celestial
III. alone, unto the end of the world

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano is written for Paul Dean. It is the 9th in a series of sonatas undertaken in the new millennium. ‘A trillion miles of darkness’ is a phrase from Michael Faber’s 2014 novel, The Book of Strange New Things. This sonata does not attempt to portray Faber’s book, but it does connect to its premise of being an unfathomably long way from one’s home planet; and also to the metaphorical idea of psychological darkness that can envelop us.

The premiere performance was given by Paul Dean (clarinet) and Kevin Power (piano) at Ian Hanger Recital Hall, QLD Conservatorium of Music, Brisbane, on Thursday 8 September 2016.

“With a title like A Trillion Miles of Darkness, the eponymous opening sonata starts suitably low and dark in timbre. David Griffiths is on the murmuring clarinet accompanied by Timothy Young on piano, and their interplay is described as ‘soulful’ by ABC Classics – an assessment with which I completely agree.”
Kate Rockstrom, Readings Magazine, September 2022

“The titular work A Trillion Miles of Darkness – a sonata for clarinet and piano – has evocative movement names, desolate, celestial and alone, unto the end of the world and is the most substantial work at just over 22 minutes. With catchy little motivs that permeate the three movements the crossover jazz/minimalist sound world of this sonata is perfectly captured by Griffiths and Young. As the most recent work, written in 2016, it shows where the music of Greenbaum is now and probably where it is headed for the next decade or so.”
Alan Holley, Classikon, September 2022

“The highlight is Greenbaum’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, written in 2016, which shares the album’s name. According to Greenbaum, the sonata explores a sense of “being an unfathomably long way from one’s home planet” and “psychological darkness.” The performers captivate from the outset with an ominous-sounding melody in octaves and lines that weave in and out of each other. They skillfully portray loneliness and darkness with their purity of sound and clarity of expression. Griffiths plays with great depth of tone and remarkable control. The muted chords at the opening of the second movement are striking, as is the ornamented solo clarinet line that introduces the third.”
Justin Stanley, International Clarinet Association – The Clarinet, June 2023