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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000982.txt from 2001/02

From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Just how important is the minuet, anyway?
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 16:53:01 -0500

I thank Ken for his very informative note on the matter of how he
perceives the minuet movement of K. 581, but I must comment that what he
is describing is the way that he both has played the piece over time and
the way he is used to playing the piece over time (which is related, of
course, with the way he likes to play the piece).

>From my perspective, the worst approach to a rethinking of a work (or in
this case, a movement) is to state "This is how I play it," and then
move on with that as a starting point of a restudy.

Ken may be absolutely right in what he does and how he perceives it, but
I have trouble putting it in context because the very question I raised
is this: "Is the way we all play the minuet worthy of restudy?" Such an
effort should not begin with the premise of "Such-and-such a section
must be in 1" or "The second trio is really a Landler." Feeling it to
be a Landler makes a presumption that is not necessarily true.

Instead a restudy has to begin with a complete dismissal of the way we
are used to playing it. Now after some time, you might wind up with a
performance exactly like the one with which you began, but one should
not start the restudy process with the assumption that what you are now
doing is right. Everything has to be questioned. Every tempo, every
assumption, every note. Keep in mind that NO editions are authoritative
since the manuscript has been lost for 200 years and no edition in the
work is based on the original holograph.

Ken, I, and all of you are creatures of the last half of the 20th
century, and we carry all the musical baggage that we have learned in
this period. I'm questioning whether the baggage I have on my back
about the way to play the minuet of K. 581 is right.

I don't want to start with the assumption that what I do or think is
correct, because I'll come out of the other end of the hole exactly the
way I came in. In effect, I will have made an empty journey.

Just as one example, I suspect that Ken believes the movement that he
thinks of as a Landler, is thought of in this way because he was told
some time ago and by someone that it was a Landler. I doubt if the
conclusion that the movement is of that particular dance form came from
within, since I doubt if Ken has ever danced the Landler. (No offense,
Ken. I'm hypothesizing how both you and I came to that same conclusion
about that section.)

You have no idea of the aggrevation that I have gone through over the
past 35 years of playing the Gran Partitta when players would tell me
that the edition I created from the autograph in Mozart's own hand was
all wrong because they KNOW how that work is supposed to go. After all
"I've played this piece in the Breitkopf edition for 25 years." The
fact that they had played it from a corrupt edition was not something
that they appreciated being told. When the NMA edition of the Gran
Partitta came out the Netherlands Wind Ensemble stopped playing the
piece and restudied it for more than a year before they did it in public
again. And when they finally revealed what they had done, it was a
completely new piece in their hands.

That is exactly what I am trying to address with the K. 581 minuet.
Right now, I am of the opinion that I know nothing about how to perform
this movement. It may take me 10 years (which at my age is a very long
time) before I come to any conclusions.

On the positive side, Ken's comments about Quantz's tempo indications is
very helpful. But I am not quite sure how to interpret a tempo of 120
quarter notes per minute in a movement in 3/4 time. Does that mean 40
measures (each of 3 beats) in one minute? Or could it mean 60 measures
in one minute, both numbers having been derived from a division of 120
by 3 and 2.
** Dan Leeson **
** **

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