Louis Cahuzac was a composer and French clarinetist known for his full and robust tone, a quality not associated with French style playing.
He was instrumental in helping Brahm’s works become well-recognized in France and was the clarinetist many composers went to when premiering music (Debussy personally coached him on the Premiere Rhapsodie, as did Stravinsky on his Three Pieces).
This unaccompanied work, “Arlequin”, portrays the most popular of the comic servant characters from the Italian play genre, Commedia dell’Arte, which means the “art of comedy,” or more accurately, the art of acting. Represented by a happy and sad mask, Harlequin is usually a jester, considered a buffoon, whose awkwardness is a source of entertainment, whether he be troubled or celebrating. He relies on cunning and cruelty to stir up mischief and deceive others, only to be himself deceived in the end.
Listen (performances by Sharon Murphy, recorded March 4, 2008): Louis Cahuzac – Arlequin