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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000396.txt from 1999/06

From: "David B. Niethamer" <>
Subj: [kl] New Chester edition of the Stravinsky 3 Pieces
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 1999 20:52:44 -0400

Tonight my colleague from the Richmond Symphony and I had our end of year
recital for our High School students, and one of Marta's kids played the
above mentioned Stravinsky, from the new Chester edition. That brought to
mind some questions I've been meaning to ask in reference to that
edition. I'll apologize in advance for the verbosity.

I have the Chester edition from yesteryear, J.W.C. 1551, copyright 1920.
It's pretty close to the current International edition (No. 2453), which
seems to be a copy of the Chester plates, with a few markings left out or
altered, possibly to avoid copyright problems (just a presumption on my
part). One of my University students played the 3 Pieces on his junior
recital this past semester, and after bringing photocopies of the
International edition to one lesson too many, I commanded him to obtain a
legal edition. Since I thought the Chester was the most authoritative, I
had him get that - he's a major, and I thought he should have a good
edition, as opposed to the cheapest.

Imagine my surprise to find that Chester now publishes a Revised Edition
(1993) edited by one Nicholas Hare. I have several beefs...

1.) the new page layout is screwed up. In the old Chester edition (J.W.C.
1551), there were three pages, laid out to turn after the first movement.
Not great, but you could copy page one (I know, I KNOW...) and tape it in
place to play without _any_ turns. The same is true of the International
edition. Because the revised edition takes 4 pages, that's not possible
now, _and_ you have to turn the page _and_ switch clarinets at the same
point in the music. Not as good in my book, because it destroys the flow
of the music from movement to movement.

2.) Mr. Hare, in his preface, states "No proofs or related correspondence
from the composer appear to have survived. Thus we have to assume that
J.W.C. 1151 (sic) represents Stravinsky's final thoughts, particularly as
he was apparently happy for the work to be reprinted unaltered for the
rest of his life."

The first and second movements are identical to J.W.C. 1551, with one
footnote regarding a discrepancy in dynamic from the MS to J.W.C. 1551 in
the second movement. In the third movement, however, there is a change I
find hard to justify, in m. 19. On the 6th and 8th 16th note of that
measure, Mr. Hare has changed a printed B natural (from J.W.C. 1551) to a
Bb, apparently to conform to the MS version. This after his statement
about J.W.C. 1551 that "...we have to assume that J.W.C. 1151 (sic)
represents Stravinsky's final thoughts..." I can't understand any
rationale for this, either melodically or in any implied harmonic sense.
Anyone care to enlighten?

Mr. Hare also makes reference to a rhythmic discrepancy in m. 43 of the
3rd mvt. In early editions, a beam was missing, making 2 32nd notes and 3
16th notes into 2 16ths and 3 8ths. Hare claims this was only corrected
in 1986, but my edition (J.W.C. 1551), purchased in 1965 or 1966 has the
correct rhythm.

3.) Mr. Hare, in his preface to the new edition, makes continual
reference to "J.W.C. 1151". Is that a different edition, or is it a
continual mistaken reference to _J.W.C. 1551_? I mention this nit-picky
point, because with all the other problems, it seems to be one more
careless error, symptomatic of the other problems in the edition itself.

4.) The last paragraph of the preface states in part..."the breath marks
are shown as commas: it is not clear whether these should or should not
interfere with the rhythmic pulse." But Rosario Mazzeo, in an article
about the Three Pieces in the May/June 1991 issue of "The Clarinet"
relates from a coaching he received from Stravinsky himself that "Each
breath is not just so much exact time; its length depends on the moment
in the music." Mazzeo than give a blow by blow description of which
breath marks are final cadential breaths, and which are brief pauses in
the flow of the phrasing. Very instructive, as is the rest of the
article. It should be required reading for anyone setting out to perform
the Three Pieces.

With all these problems, I'm going to be recommending that students buy
the International edition. It's now more useful than Chester from a
practical performance perspective. Any thoughts?


David Niethamer
Principal Clarinet, Richmond Symphony

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