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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000880.txt from 1999/01

From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.edu>
Subj: [kl] Ed Lacy comments on a performance of K. 622
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 19:14:46 -0500

Ed Lacy wrote a glowing review of a performance of K. 622 by the
professor of clarinet at Eastman. I don't doubt what he says for
a minute. Ed is very sharp and his comments went right to the
heart of the clarinet playing aspects of this most magnificent of
works in the entire clarinet repertoire (just my opinion).

In a passing reference to some comments I have made earlier (and
many times) about cadenzas and eingange, Ed commented on the fact
that the performer played a cadenza in the first movement, being
very careful to point out that he (Ed, that is) distinguished the
cadenza from an eingang by virtue of its length. He said that, as
a general rule of thumb, an eingang should not be played in more
than one breath. It's not a bad rule; a little restrictive, but
following that idea would be a good general principle.

I don't know what was played and can't really make any judgement
about what was done beyond Ed's statement about it being long. I
wish I knew if he meant "about 60 seconds" or "as long as 3
minutes" or what. But whatever was meant, there are two issues on
which I want to comment.

The distinguishing characteristic between an eingang and a cadenza
is not only their respective lengths. In general, length is not
the overriding way to distinguish one from the other. Instead it
is a matter more of what the performer is expected to do in one vs.
the other. It is in the doing of the objectives of a cadenza that
causes it to be long. The objectives of an eingang are much more
modest.

Furthermore, the chord structure that begins one is quite different
from the chord structure that begins the other. So right up front
there is an important technical difference at the front end.
Furthermore, at the back end, when you need to get out of the
cadenza or the eingang, there is a different way to do that thing.
These difference are non-trivial, though the preponderance of the
clarinet playing community are insufficiently sensitive to the
overall purpose of a cadenza vs and eingang.

In summarizing, you get into a cadenza one way, do certain and very
specific things within it, and get out of it one way. In an eingang
you get into it quite differently, do absolutely different things
when you are in it, and then get out of it in a completely
different way.

All of this is by way of saying that a personal wish to do cadenza
things when the composer has requested an eingang is not within the
prerogative of the performer; i.e., the performer does not say, "I
know the composer wants an eingang here, but I much prefer to play
a cadenza." ("I know the composer wants a basset horn here, but I
am going to play it on a bass clarinet.")

Ed also commented that there was no rebellion from the audience
that the performer had done something other than what was expected
of him. I'm not surprised. Ed was in both the wrong audience and
the wrong century. He would have even been in the wrong millenium
if he had written his remarks next year. If he had been in an
audience in 1791 when Stadler played it, he would have seen exactly
what a knowledgeable audience could do if Stadler decided to insert
a cadenza when an eingang was requested by the composer. Cabbage
being thrown would not have been impossible.

In effect, the fact that the audience did not rebel because they
have little training in form a vs. form b, is not a reason to
suggest that nothing inappropriate took place. The same phenomenon
occurs when one hears a piece from that same period with the
composers committing the error of using parallel fifths and
parallel octaves. Contemporary audiences, having been raised on
Stravinsky, are not going to be fussy about parallel octaves, but
in the 18th century audience, they would spot such a thing in half
an eyeblink. What Ed has described speaks more to the lack of
training of the audiences rather than the implied unimportance of
the keeping the cadenza and the eingang as very separate things.

And, from my perspective at least, if the performer really doesn't
know what the differences are between those two stylized but very
different cliches, and he did the cadenza out of ignorance, that is
very serious. The professor of clarinet at Eastman school of music
has no business making that kind of a structural error, one which
his students will begin to emulate under the impression that if it
is not important for the teacher in one of the great schools of
America, then it certainly is not important for them; i.e., it sets
a bad standard to emulate.

The net result of all this is that a generation of students will
continue in ignorance about an important 18th century performance
tradition. And what suffers is not the audience, not the
performer, not the student, but the work. K. 622 is not supposed
to sound like that any more than being played in the style of a
hoedown. That was not in the composer's head when he wrote it and
no one, least of all the clarinet professor at one of the most
distinguished music schools in America, should modify it because
s/he doesn't know the difference between the two things.

Do you remember the Benny Goodman story, that cheesy piece of crap
that Hollywood turned out? Well Goodman plays K. 622, last
movement at the home of his future wife's fancy relatives. All he
plays is the last movement, but what a last movement. It was cut
to shreds in order to be played in 5 minutes 35 seconds. Whole
sections were cut out. It ceased being any of the standard kinds
of rondos, but Hollywood was happy. I think there is little difference
between what some Hollywood producer did when he said, "Can't we
shorten that piece a lot?" and one of the best players in America
playing a cadenza when an eingang is requested.

We are expected to know better. That is one of the challenges of
playing the clarinet. Not only to master the terrible difficulties
of the instrument, but to master the performance practice issues
associated with any piece we play. Good hands, even great hands
are not enough. There has to be some knowledge of what makes a
piece tick in order to achieve a great performance.

But who will know? The performer, his/her students, his/her colleagues,
and God. That's not a bad audience.

[I'm really speaking at a disadvantage here. I was not present at
the performance and my entire remarks are derived from Ed's description.
Maybe I did not understand or misinterpreted. Surely the professor
at the Eastman school has to be a magnificent player. They would never
have chosen him if he were not. I am not commenting about his technical
abilities, and if I have misinterpreted Ed's remarks then I really can't
comment about his knowledge of 18th century performance practice
issues.]

=======================================
Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California
leeson@-----.edu
=======================================

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