Playground on a Hill for clarinet quartet by Shao Fern Teo

This delightful new work (2016) for a quartet of three B-flat clarinets and bass clarinet will make a fine addition to any recital. It is jazz and pop-inflected while never tilting towards the saccharine or cheesy. Students (and professionals) will enjoy playing it, and audiences of all types will appreciate this work a great deal.

Technical considerations in this piece are fairly minimal. It would be appropriate for advancing high school quartets and younger collegiate groups. What challenges exist come in the form of syncopated rhythms and quite independent parts. For younger players, this piece will aid in the further development of rhythm and counting. Further, each of the four parts receives a considerable amount of exposure as the principal voice. No range concerns exist, as the first part is the only one to venture above an A above the staff, and that is only fleetingly.

This piece comes highly recommended. Especially if this is to be included in a program of more musically serious literature, the work will serve as a contrast that will draw in non-musicians in the audience. All the while, it is still a high-quality work worthy of study and rehearsal by young musicians and professionals.

- Andrew J. Allen
NACWPI Journal

Fall 2017; Volume 65, Issue 1