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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001029.txt from 1999/01

From: "Joe Turpin" <>
Subj: [kl] Stravinsky's "Le Sacre"
Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 04:01:06 -0500

Hello again all,

I loved the posts on this subject. Gave me a good chuckle as I remembered
my early encounters with this excerpt; not realizing that the bassoon
actually goes to a high e-flat at the theme's reappearance at rehearsal 12
after being transposed up a half step!

I don't think Stravinsky sought tenseness, from his extremely talented and
well-rehearsed Paris musicians, in the difficulty of its playing, but rather
the tonal quality of both the register and the French system basson's unique
timbre. Though entering on an exposed high c may have been unique in the
basson's orchestral literature at the time, it would not have posed any
great difficulty to a professional French basson player. The basson's
(stress on French) key system and playing characteristics are such that the
high register is much more easily navigated than on a German system fagott
and its lower octaves hard to start; though Maurice Allard's technique
throws this excuse out the window.

My point is that many of us, especially students of my generation (X), have
only heard early recordings by German players or French players forced to
play a Heckel. German bassoons of that era lacked the high d and e keys
that players are afforded today. Thus, the harsher attacks (the incipient
note) and pinched quality were do to the limitations of the German bassoon
and so these performances are not necessarily "authentic." They do however
bring a different interpretation and almost reorchestration that adds an
unfinished quality that enhances the 'tense' feeling. Yes, the difference
in tone is that different. In fact, there are quite a number of jokes that
bassoonists circulate concerning the French Basson:-)

I'm sorry I have rambled on, but I have done so with a smile and hope you
read it with the same amount of levity. As they say in the House, I yield
to the gentlemen Mr. Pay and Mr. Blumberg from cyberspace:-)

Joe Turpin

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