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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000605.txt from 1999/01

From: Jack Kissinger <kissingerjn@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: [kl] Unaccompanied solo works
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 21:46:20 -0500

Noah A. Smith wrote:

> Hello, I am a clarinetist and college student. Because I'm not a
> music major, I have essentially no opportunity to play with an accompanist
> What I'm looking for is music that is written for unaccompanied clarinet.
> Can anyone recommend anything, in particular, any works from before the
> 20th century? (I worked on Stravinksy's Three Pieces and found them
> appropriately challenging but in all honestly and in my humble opinion they
> weren't terribly enjoyable pieces
> of music!) I've recently studied Willson Osborne's Rhapsody. Does
> anyone know of any quality recordings of this work? Any advice or
> suggestions will be appreciated!

To which, Michael Norsworthy replied:

> L. Berio - Lied; Sequenza IX
> Stravinsky - 3 pieces
> Suttermeister - Capriccio
> E. Carter - GRA
> D. Martino - A Set
> Rozsa - Theme and Variations
> W. O. Smith - Five Piece; Variants
> Sari - Five Pieces
> This should get you started. This is a pretty standard list and all
> these pieces are easy to get. Also, check the sneezy database....
> Mark's got quite a list compiled for all of us already. Good luck.

I am not familiar with the Rozsa or Sari works mentioned on Michael's list.
I expect, however, that he is actually thinking about the Rozsa "Sonatina" as
its first movement is entitled "Theme and Variations" and it could easily
stand alone. The Sari that I am familiar with is "Stati" (subtitled "Quattro
Tempi per Clarinetto Solo"). Is this what you had in mind, Michael, or do
you know of a second piece by Sari? If the latter, I would be grateful for
the publisher and dates.)

More to the point, none of these works is pre-20th century and many (most) of
them probably won't appeal to someone who didn't particularly enjoy the
Stravinsky. Also, some of them are fiendishly difficult. Based on
"accessibility" and difficulty, I would probably eliminate Berio, Carter,
Martino and Smith. Since you apparently like the Osborne, I suspect you
would enjoy the Sutermeister and the Rosza (particularly the first (Theme and
Variations) movement of the Sonatina). The Sari is a tossup. I just got it
and I've never heard it or really tried to read through it. It looks
playable but sometimes looks are deceiving. Perhaps someone else on the list
can comment.

As far as other 20th century works that you might enjoy, I would recommend
Jorgen Bentzon's "Thema med Variationer" and von Koch's "Monolog 3" (don't be
put off by the title of the second piece, it actually is very lyrical and
tonal). In particular, I think the Bentzon is fun to play and only of medium
technical difficulty -- a good college recital piece. I don't know why no
one has recorded it.

As far as pre-20th century music is concerned, I'm afraid that, aside from
Bach transcriptions, there isn't alot to choose from. Donizetti wrote a
"Study" which is sometimes performed (e.g., it is on the Leister recording I
mentiion). David Blumberg's midi site on Sneezy has a "Solfegietto" by
C.P.E. Bach that you can download and print out if you have access to a music
notation program. For other transcriptions, you could do alot worse than
Rubank's "Classical Studies," a large collection of transcriptions mostly
from Bach's solo music for violin and cello but with a few other pieces and
some Handel thrown in. I think there is alot of useable material in this
book (which has been around for ages -- I bought mine in high school for $2)
and the price is still (at Luyben's) miraculously only $7 -- IMHO a
remarkable bargain.

As far as recordings go, I can think of four recent ones for solo clarinet
(there may be others), by Eduard Brunner, Jonathan Cohler, Paul Meyer and
Karl Leister. Given the way you feel about the Stravinsky, I think you can
rule out the Brunner and the Meyer, immediately. Neither has the Osborne and
Stravinsky is about as "accessible" as either of them gets. The Cohler and
Leister, on the other hand, both have points to recommend them. Both have
recordings of the Osborne and the performances are both IMO good, though
quite different. The Leister is far more relaxed -- less dramatic changes in
dynamics and tempi. He takes about 45 seconds (almost 20%) longer. So far,
I prefer the Cohler. Others may disagree. Both recordings also include
performances of the von Koch "Monolog 3" I mentioned above. The Leister also
has the Sutermeister "Capriccio." You really should hear this piece
(apologies to Tony ;^) ).

There is one other recording of the Osborne currently available by Kathy
Pope. I have not heard it but, overall, the recording has received good
reviews. If it's a consideration, Leister gives you almost 75 minutes,
Cohler a bit over 53minutes and Pope less than 45 minutes ;^( on their
respective full-priced CD's.

Best regards,
Jack Kissinger
St. Louis

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