Rebecca Clarke: Chinese Puzzle


Composed in 1921 for solo violin and piano, Rebecca Clarke’s Chinese Puzzle is an intricate study for the violin. Using the pentatonic scale, Clarke bases this short study on typical Oriental themes and harmony. 


The Music

Throughout the entirety of Chinese Puzzle, the violin is playing pizzicato. The piano plays very staccato throughout to imitate the same effect. The violin starts with fragments of pentatonic scalic runs which creates the initial excitement of the piece. As the piano and violin begin to entangle the theme is passed through seamless transitions and call and response passages. As the dynamic becomes louder, the piano becomes more of a feature as the violin continues to pluck. Only for the last flourishing chord does the violin play with the bow. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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1 Comment

Christopher Johnson · 8th December 2020 at 2:01 pm

For the most accurate, up-to-date information on Rebecca Clarke’s life, career, and works, including other versions of “Chinese Puzzle,” please see her official website, For further details, use the site’s “Contact” page. I am a great-nephew of Clarke’s and the owner of her rights as composer and author.

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