Orchestration: solo clarinet/bass clarinet 1(picc).1.1.1/1.1/1perc/str.
Duration: 7 mins approx.
There is a bucolic quality to much of the music in this caprice. The sound of the tambourine (heard periodically throughout the piece) enhances this pastoral atmosphere whilst also hinting at an ancient and almost ritualistic sound-world. This combination of the rustic and the antique brought to mind Pan, the woodland dwelling Demi-God of Ancient Greek mythology, who is often associated with music.
The piece is structured in a series of contrasting episodes within which the listener might hear Pan - represented by the solo clarinet or bass clarinet - gleefully scaring intruders who enter his woodland (the word 'panic' is derived from his name after all), dancing with other satyrs, and resting in an idyllic glades. All the while Pan is haunted by the memory of Syrinx (represented by the flute or piccolo), the nymph who was the object of his unrequited love.
Pan's Caprice was commissioned by the Mahler Players with the support of the RVW Trust.