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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000639.txt from 2000/09

From: "Lacy, Edwin" <el2@-----.edu>
Subj: RE: [kl] Espressivo, Brahms Sonata #2
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 12:24:02 -0400

> All three of the espressivo instructions in the 2nd movement apply
> to the same sequence of notes (A4-F4-B5-A5-G4-F4) and to no other
> sequence. [.....] So clearly Brahms has chosen this sequence for special
attention.
>
> This same sequence appears twice without an espressivo instruction,
> but the dynamic in these two cases is different.
>
> I have not looked at the piano part yet to see what the piano is
> doing during the repetitions 'with' vs. 'without' the espressivo
> instruction.

I am forced to conclude that you are obsessing far too much about the word
"espressivo." It means just what it says, play expressively. In answer to
your original question, is it ever appropriate to play inexpressively, my
answer is yes. For one example, if you are playing background parts in an
ensemble, such as arpeggiated chords or other "noodling," trying to play
super expressively can be distracting to other players. I remember well a
flute player playing the second flute part in Ravel's Bolero, who tried to
use vibrato on every note of the part, which is essentially the same as the
snare drum part. The result was about the most comical effect you can
imagine.

But, it is not really the instructions in the score, but rather the internal
musical content that tells us when to play expressively, how expressively to
play, and how to accomplish that. Determining those things is subjective,
and accounts for the fact that performers have individual styles.

Ed Lacy
el2@-----.edu

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