Pocket Knives, Paper Football (2002) by Kenneth Froelich
for flute, clarinet, and piano

When I was first approached to write this piece by flutist John Rush, I was asked to write a trio in the form of a "romantic sonata". What exactly made a sonata "romantic" or not was unclear to me — later on I would find out that the term was simply a descriptive one that my friend John had used, with no definite form implied. Nonetheless, the idea had been placed in my mind — regardless of how I was to write the work, I could not shake the idea of a "romantic sonata". The end result of this thought process is that the style of the two outer movements borrows greatly from earlier music, particularly from the late classical and early romantic eras; the style of the contrasting middle movement is anything but romantic.

This contrast of tradition vs. non-tradition is the main idea of this work. Classical textures (Alberti bass) and forms are juxtaposed against aleatoric passages. Diatonic melodies quickly shift to atonality and back. Harmonies begin quite stable, only to be completely turned on their side by unexpected transitions.

The rather unique title to this work likewise contrasts two unlike objects against one another. The thought of a paper football came to me while watching an oft-repeated commercial on television that featured the toy in an office. It took me a while to think of a contrasting item that would work alongside the playful image of a paper football. Eventually, the pocket knife came to mind, a symbol of childhood violence. The juxtaposition of the pocket knife and a paper football worked far better than I wished, considering that they both could be found on the playground. This title is not programmatic, but rather representative of the juxtaposition of uncommon elements in a common realm.

This work was commisioned by The Delicato Ensemble.

— K. F.    

[from program for November 3, 2007 concert]