Vitrail (Stained-glass Window)
In this single-movement score, punctuated by frequent tempo changes, the B ?at clarinet is in turn expressive and virtuoso. Langlais exploits the instrument's volubility and tessitura, from the lowest to the highest registers, in several virtuoso passages. However. the overall tone is sombre and anguished, dominated melodically by a tolling motif (in the past, rung by the three bells of the church of La Fontenelle, the village where the composer was born) played by the piano and taken up by the clarinet. The work's harmonic density, constantly fluctuating around a chromatic pole, gives a glimpse of the obsession of death that Langlais, in his 80th year, felt as being increasingly close.
Extract from CD booklet Musique de Chambre avec Piano (March 2001)