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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000169.txt from 1994/01

From: James Langdell <James.Langdell@-----.COM>
Subj: Re: Alec Wilder Sonata
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 1994 21:00:51 -0500

I played Alec Wilder's sonata for clarinet & piano
on my senior recital in 1975. I wish Gunther Schuller's
new-and-improved edition had been available then.
The pianist I worked with on it was Chris Brown, now
better known as a composer and builder of instruments
such as the Electric Hot Lunch.

While preparing the piece, Chris and I liked
the first three movements a lot, but almost decided
to omit the final movement in performance. That fourth
movement seemed to be nothing but a piece of 12-tone music
written by someone who didn'tlike 12-tone music just to prove
that all 12-tone music was crummy! We couldn't find any reason
to *want* to play that movement. (And both Chris and I were
playing music far stranger than 12-tone at that time.)

After being coached by Rosario Mazzeo, we wound up playing that
movement in an energetic, almost damn-the-pitches style. (I forget
how much of this approach was a direct suggestion from Rosario.)
Eventually we found enough of a thread of satisfaction in the
rhythmic content of that movementto go ahead and include it when
we performed the sonata.

Still, that last movement still feels like it has no relationship
to the first 3/4 of the sonata. That's saying something, considering
how varied the earlier movements are stylistically. But the earlier
transitions between lush pop harmonies and stark counterpoint had
a convincing flow. The last movement just makes a big racket out
of a completely different world.

Has anyone else found virtues in that fourth movement that I've
not uncovered?

Has anyone else hit the point of deciding to not perform
portions of a composition for aesthetic reasons (as opposed to
the whole work being too long, or too hard, or the score suddenly
calling for seven alphorns to play in the third movement)?

And, by the way, are there any other clarinet sonatas by
Alec Wilder?

--James Langdell
Sun Microsystems Mountain View, Calif.

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