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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000491.txt from 1997/12

From: "Ginstling/Ransom" <ginsuransom@-----.net>
Subj: Re: Today's Titus on the Met Broadcast -Reply
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 19:41:25 -0500

OK, Dan, since you so eloquently defend the give and take of ideas on this
list and, in particular, in this thread, I've decided to throw my hat into
the ring as well. I believe you've been extremely harsh on Ricardo, made
assumptions about him which you probably should not be making, and put undue
emphasis on "what the composer wrote".

My argument stems not from your criticism of Ricardo using the "wrong"
clarinet for the piece, for I don't think anyone would dispute that it was,
in fact, written for the basset clarinet. I just wonder why you believe
that "the bottom line" is determined by his choice of instrument. You
yourself state that there are 1000 positive things to be said for his
performance. So why does this one area of disagreement override all those
positives? Judging from your many postings to this list, I certainly can't
imagine you would be more pleased or satisfied if someone had played the
aria using the the "correct" basset clarinet, but played the piece with
terrible phrasing, no sense of style and an extremely unpleasant tone? Yet
it seems that such a performance would satisfy your "bottom line"
requirement that the piece be played on the precise instrument for which it
was written.

There are many instances when artists do not follow every precise
instruction left by the composer. While certain "interpretive" judgements
are obviously more questionable than others, I believe that the beauty of
live performance and music in general is the unbelievably exciting and
provocative juxtaposition of a living creative being's interpretation of a
body of work left behind by someone else, on paper.

Furthermore, any performance of any piece of music today carries with it the
baggage (sometimes helpful, sometimes a hindrance) of the tradition of the
day and the tradition of previous generations. This is precisely why I am
so turned off by the original instrument/authentic performance craze. I'm
certain that any performance of Mozart's music today, no matter what
instrument we use or which notes we play, can in no way replicate the way
the music sounded at the time it was written. I don't mean to be facetious
by reminding you that at the time Mozart wrote La Clemenza di Tito,
musicians had not yet been exposed to the worlds of Brahms, Mahler, Wagner,
etc... The sound/phrase world in which we hear and play music today has
undoubtedly been influenced by all that has preceded it, and it cannot be
compared to any other era. What I'm trying to say here is that those who
want to try and recreate the sound of a Mozart orchestra from Mozart's time
are certainly welcome to do so, but as far as I'm concerned they could only
be successful by breeding a generation of musicians who have never been
exposed to any music beyond Mozart's time...

As for your "suspicions" about Ricardo turning professional at a young age
and not being aware of musical issues outside of playing, all I can say is
you really should not speak about things which you do not know. In my brief
experiences with Ricardo I have found him extraordinarily articulate about
music and music history; he is musically and intellectually mature well
beyond his years.

I would not argue that finding out about these issues not for ourselves, but
for the music, could, as you say, be considered the "highest degree of
professionalism"; however, beautiful, sensitive, intelligent and emotional
music-making is, to me, the highest degree of artistry, and, to me, it is
artistry and not professionalism which is the bottom line.

Gary Ginstling
Los Angeles, CA
ginsuransom@-----.net

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Dan Leeson wrote-

I think that one of the most valuable things provided by this list
is for a variety of viewpoints to be displayed. It is a measure of
its excellence that one is able to solicit comments on many things,
and receive some that are anathmatic to one's own personal views...

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