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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000405.txt from 1997/09

From: "David C. Blumberg" <>
Subj: RE:Rhapsody in Blue Clarinets
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 1997 22:07:42 -0400

In high school, I was performing Rhapsody in blue, and right before the
lush section, my C# (1st line below staff) spring broke - suddenly, my
clarinet had a huge leak, and wouldn't play. I bent over, grabbed my A, and
transposed the rest of the piece. Luckily, it was the last piece of the
Concert (and festival), so I was lucky. Real, real glad that it didn't
happen before I played the opening gliss.

David C. Blumberg

Mitch Wrote:
Incidentally, I have always believed in the
play-it-on-the-indicate-instrument doctrine, and the reason hit home
clearly at a rehearsal last week. I showed up with both Bb and A clarinets
to play 2nd clarinet in a rehearsal of Rhapsody in Blue. Now we all know
that Gershwin (the composer) played this work as a solo piano piece and
that the original instrumental scoring was for big band (saxes [doubling
clarinet], trumpets, trombones, and rhythm section). So why should he have
cared which clarinet I used? Well the orchestral arrangement is that of
Ferde Grofe, and he really knew how to select instrumental tone colors.

Anyway, when we got to the lush section that calls for clarinets in A on
the first read-through, both the first clarinetist and I dutifully switched
instruments. (There is a long rest to facilitate the switch.) Shortly after
we had completed that passage and had switched back to our Bb clarinets to
prepare for our next entrance, however, the conductor stopped the orchestra
and restarted near the beginning of the passage that calls for the A
(unlikely to happen in a concert). With no time to switch, we both
tranposed the part on the Bb clarinet. Try it; it's easy to play on the Bb
clarinet, but the color was all wrong. Completely wrong. It sounded like a
different piece.

I wonder if anyone outside of the clarinet section noticed or cared. But I
did. And I promise, Dan, that I'll never play that passage on my Bb
clarinet again.

On the other hand, Grofe left the bass clarinet part in Bb during that same
passage. Hmmm.

- --Mitch Bassman

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