For 2 Clarinets and Piano
The Il Convegno, which in Italian means the meeting or the appointment, dates from 1853. The treatment of the instruments is quite fine, no doubt from his skills acquired as a band conductor. The work became immensely popular and was subsequently published in several different arrangements. There are arias, recitative-like transitions, sections of quiet dialogue, radical changes of mood, declarations of accord and stunning stretta sections. Essentially, the music portrays a lovers' rendezvous. At first they are shy and retiring, but soon they lose their inhibitions and become playful and carefree, later there are serious matters between them. A tremendous showcase for the two clarinets, the work lasts about 12 minutes.
Amilcare Ponchielli (1834-1886) was born in the Italian village of Fasolaro not far from Cremona. His extraordinary musical talent was quickly recognized and at the age of 9, he was sent to the Milan Conservatory to study composition. After graduating, he immediately started composing opera, for in Italy it was then impossible to make a name for oneself except through opera. At first, he had no luck and for a number of years was forced to take jobs as a band conductor in several small towns before he wrote the opera for which he is remembered, La Gioconda with its famous Dance of the Hours, perhaps the only work for which he is still remembered. After this, things changed. Recognition brought a professorship at Milan Conservatory and many other honors. Among his many students were Puccini, Pizzi and Mascagni.