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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000098.txt from 1993/12

From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: Schubert, Strauss and the C clarinet
Date: Tue, 7 Dec 1993 14:51:48 -0500

David Shea feels that contrasting Schubert's use of the C clarinet
with Strauss' is a weak comparison because he perceives the composers
using the C clarinet for different purposes; i.e., Schubert because
he was obliged to because of a perceived primitiveness of the
instrument during that era, and Strauss because he was interested in
the timbre.

David, I am not sure that I can come to that same conclusion. I do not
perceive Schubert's sensitivity to timbre to be any less than Strauss'.
While it may be true that clarinetists of Schubert's time had a C
clarinet because of ease of use in the keys of C, F, and G (whereas
the B-flat clarinet was used for concert keys of B-flat and E-flat,
and the A clarinet for the concert keys of D and A), Schubert on
hearing those instruments during his time had to be influenced by its
peculiar character. So when he wrote for it, he wrote idiomatic parts
for it. That is to say, he took advantage of the fact that he was
obliged to use and and wrote parts that enjoyed the character of the
sound. In effect, I think he made a benefit out of a disadvantage.

Strauss sought out that color, to be sure. In fact, he insisted on
hit. But that is not a viable reason to presume that Schubert did
not also insist on it by virtue of the character of the parts he wrote
for it. The Schubert octet movement that uses a C clarinet has quite
a different character when transposed onto a B-flat clarinet.

It is nothing more or less than another case of presuming that
composers of the classic era were not as sensitive to sound character
as more contemporary composers. On the contrary, they may have been
more sensitive.

Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California

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