Klarinet Archive - Posting 000262.txt from 1997/12
From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.edu>
Subj: Today's Titus on the Met Broadcast
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 08:11:59 -0500
I admit that I stood in absolute awe of Morales' control and intelligence
in the performing of the great Parto aria which employs an obliggato
clarinet to such a stunning effect. It finished not 10 minutes ago.
But the bottom line is that, despite the 1000 positive things one can
say about the performance, the fact remains that he played it on the
wrong clarinet! The part is written for a basset clarinet in B-flat
and it was performed on a standard clarinet in B-flat.
There are four reasons why he might have done this:
1) The conductor insisted on a performance played on
2) Morales was unable to find a basset clarinet that
had the required professional characteristics and thus
was compelled to ignore the explicit performance
3) Morales would have like to played in on the proper
instrument but does not own one and decided not to
incur the expense of one for such a rare occasion;
4) Morales does not know for what instrument the work
I am sympathetic to the first two, very much less sympathetic to
the third but consider the fourth the most likely.
Morales is such an incredible talent and such a magnificent player
that I believe he left college before completing his course of study.
I am told that he began to play professionally at about the age of
20, a testament to his extraordinary technical facility. As such,
it is unlikely that he had little opportunity to get to know things
associated with music outside of playing. Bottom line is that I
suspect that he never found out about the clarinet revolution
currently in progress with the availability of contemporary
basset clarinets and thus does not know that the part that he played
on the radio is rife with wrong notes, "wrong" in the sense that they
are not what Mozart wrote, they are occasionally an octave too high,
and the balance of the aria is upset to some degree every time such
an event occurs, and thus the entire aria is thrown out of kilter.
It distresses me to think that he does know about the basset clarinet
but does not consider it a very important thing. So I won't credit
the problem to this phenomenon.
Over the last week or two, the subject of "what the composer intended"
has come up on this list a dozen times. Well, here we have a very
practical case. What the composer intended was NOT played, and instead
a modified version created ca. 1800 to fit a clarinet of reduced
range was substituted. And neither the composer nor the aria were
well served by this activity.
Can Morales play well? He's breathtaking. Does he play intelligently?
He is a joy to hear. Is he aware of the relationship between performance
practice and proper execution of music from this era? I think not.
And it makes no difference if no one in the world including Morales knows
what he did. It is our duty to find out about these things and to do
them, not for ourselves, but for the music. That is what constitutes
the highest level of professionalism.
Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California
Rosanne Leeson, Los Altos, California