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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000157.txt from 1996/04

From: Stan Geidel
Subj: Szell, Marcellus, tonguing, and Mozart
Date: Sat, 6 Apr 1996 18:25:31 -0500

My favorite topic has surfaced again!! (Which is, what did Mozart really
want in his music.)

I would like to add a third example to Dan Leeson's excellent commentary,
and that example is the marvelous Trio for clarinet, viola, and piano. I am
fortunate enough to possess a copy of the autograph of this work (given to
me by the late Jerry Pierce) and if you had this autograph in your hand, as
I do now, you could easily see that Mozart indeed used great care in marking
his desired articulations. Perhaps "care" is the wrong word...Mozart tended
to write with extreme rapidity, and the articulations could even be said to
have a "careless" look about them, as does his notation overall. They in
fact are not "careless," they simply are written rather hurriedly. (I will
save additional comments on Mozart's notation for another day.) Suffice to
say, the articulations Mozart wanted are there, written in the score. They
are clear enough to see exactly what he wanted, and--importantly--the lack
of an indication does not mean "add one if you wish." I base this last
statement on the great number of articulations that are actually present.

Finally, these articulations (and the predominance of tonguing) make sense
when one considers the nature of the sound of the 18th century piano. I'll
be mercifully brief here, since there is much to say...the important point
is that the so called "Viennese action" pianos of the 18th century were
famous for their lighter, shallower touch (as compared with Christofori's
piano). This touch was an innovation specifically designed to facilitate
the creation of a lighter, more brilliant sound, a sound which was much in
vogue in Vienna at the time. Thus, Mozart most assuredly crafted his
articulations to compliment this lighter, brilliant, crisp sound. Clearly,
the way to do this is to require more tonguing than slurring. Mozart sought
to stylize his music to the tastes of the day, and did so with much thought
and careful choice. Articulations are in large measure a matter of taste
and style, and Mozart gives us wonderfully clear insights into the 18th
century tastes and preferences of the 18th century ear.

Stan Geidel

Stan Geidel
Muncie, Indiana

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