for Clarinet and String Quartet
With “Flicker” I aim to capture the weak, unstable imagery and affect of a flame just before it’s extinction. The work opens with a tired, faded theme in the clarinet over a relentlessly numb string accompaniment: the old flame is already nearly extinguished, and the dark funeral chorale is at the ready. Through a series of rising attempts at gaining strength, there is a brief resurgence of energy and light. The determined clarinet inspires the strings to become more active and alive: a flicker of hope. The flame wills itself to become more alive, and it is temporarily successful, coals turn to embers, flickering sounds are emboldened, one flame multiplies, to two, three, and beyond. Soon, the fire is out of control, wild, strained, consuming. Yet, it is this final push of desperate energy that ultimately causes the flame to suffocate itself. The weak flame is responsible for its own downfall, and the piece ends a mere shadow of what it was when it began: slowly losing the energy and oxygen of life, until the flame chokes down its final, flickering breath.