for contrabassoon and piano
by Elaine Fine (b. 1959) - American composer and violist
II. Tempo di Siciliano
The Harlequin is one of the stock characters in the Commedia dell'arte, or 'Italian Comedy,' a genre of largely improvisational theater that was extremely popular in Italy beginning in the 15th century. A typical troupe had 10 stock characters, played either by actors or by puppets, and the plays were based around conventional comedic situations.
Jean-Francois Marmontel (1723-1799) describes the character of the Harlequin, one of the most important of the stock characters, in much the same way one might describe the character of the contrabassoon:
'The model Harlequin is all suppleness and agility, with the grace of a young cat, yet equipped with a superficial coarseness that renders his performances more amusing; the role is that of a lackey, patient, faithful, credulous, gluttonous, always in love, always in difficulties either on his master's account or on his own, afflicting himself and consoling himself again with the readiness of a child, one whose sorrows are as amusing as his joys.'
This Harlequin Sonata was written in 2006 at the request of Susan Nigro.