Five Lyric Pieces began its life in 2000 as a song cycle called Winter Solace, which was premiered at a festival of Canfield's music given at the University of Central Oklahoma in February of 2000. In 2012, the composer, desiring to present a long-promised work to Dr. Otis Murphy, Professor of Saxophone at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, came up the idea of reworking the cycle for saxophone and piano, in order to quickly initiate a series of works to be written for this renowned artist and teacher of the saxophone. Consequently, both the vocal line and piano part were reworked for Dr. Murphy and his wife. Shortly after the composer finished the version for saxophone and piano, he realized that it would work equally well scored for clarinet, and consequently made this version for clarinetist, Dr. John Anderson. The present work is not a flashy virtuoso piece, but is intended to display the rich tone of the solo instrument. The dark quality of the texts of the song cycle, dealing with the subject of the death of children, is complemented by a generally somber atmosphere in the music, but the set of pieces ends on an optimistic note, reflecting the composer's conviction of the continuation of life in eternity.
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