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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000986.txt from 2001/02

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] Mozart Quintet Mvt. 4
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 17:26:30 -0500

On Sun, 25 Feb 2001 13:55:36 EST, said:

> Dan Leeson's wonderful posting on the 3rd movement of K. 581 inspired
> me to ask the board's opinion on some things I've been thinking about
> in the 4th movement.
> Theme: The first 8 bar section consists of an elegant 2 bar statement
> and an elegant 2 bar response, followed by a second counter-statement
> and response. The second 4 bars constitute a response and balance to
> the first 8 bars.
> The first 4 bars of second section are a "wild" statement and
> response. The 1st violin flies off on a descant, eyes flashing, hair
> flying, and the viola repeats it canonically. For the second 4 bars,
> the 1st violin eases chromatically back into "elegant" mode, repeating
> the counter-statement and response of the first section.
> These patterns -- 2 bar statement, 2 bar response; 2 bar
> counter-statement and response; 2 bar wild statement and response; and
> elegant 2 bar counter-statement and response -- continue through the
> variations.

Hi, Ken.

Great! I'd love to hear you play it.

I'm responding to your post in the spirit that you wrote it, I hope. I
think that this sort of post is very valuable, and I thank you for
making it.

I like the idea of a change of mood at the double bar, but find that I
want it the other way round. So, if we call the theme AA BB, I think
that the first four bars of B are in fact less wild than A, because:

(1) Smaller intervals, no dotted rhythms,

(2) Structure follows bar hierarchy, as opposed to dots (daggers?) over
quarters, defeating bar hierarchy,

(3) Slurs.

But you can do it your way, too.

By the way, when I say that the dots/daggers (we don't have the
manuscript) defeat the bar hierarchy, I'm putting forward quite a
personal view, although it's a view that is shared by quite a few
people. The idea is that 1, 2, 3, 4 has a hierarchy (1 is more than 3,
but both are more than 2 or 4; 2 is more than 4, as we were taught when
little) in this sort of music, but that sometimes the composer wants to
subvert that. Daggers, or dots, have the effect of making all four
beats equal. (See in addition the last movement of the Jupiter
Symphony, where there are daggers over each of the 4 bars of the main
theme, to defeat the implicit (super)hierarchy associated with a 4 bar

> Variation 1: The clarinet weaves a lacy pattern over the theme played
> by the strings. It incorporates the wildness in the opening of the
> second section by making the giant leaps (clarion F, chalumeau low G,
> clarion high B), making the only trill in the variation and repeating
> the first violin's chromatic transition to the second 4 bars. Note
> that the theme disappears in the strings for the 4 wild bars, leaving
> the music even more disconnected from its courtly elegance. I don't
> think this is nearly as much of a clarinet solo as most people play
> it. The strings have the theme -- the clarinet has the decoration --
> not the other way around.

I find I don't want to make the choice of what's more important -- it
seems to me that both should be clear.

Certainly, though, there's a way of playing that 'hogs the stage', and
I'm with you that that's not appropriate. See below.

> Variation 2: The theme has disappeared. It's in your ear rather than
> in the parts. However, in the second half of the first section, the
> clarinet has an altered version of the theme, containing all the
> notes. Thus, it's really is a clarinet solo. This is accentuated
> because the cello drops out when the clarinet line begins to move,
> throwing it into relief. The second section begins with the wild
> rising figures, this time completely unmelodic. When the clarinet
> plays in the second half, the cello also plays, bringing the clarinet
> back into the ensemble texture. The contrast this time is not melody
> and accompaniment, but wildness and elegance.

When you say it's a clarinet solo, do you mean that the clarinet is in
the 'personal' register here?

I've brought this up before, and find that it's something that
constantly engages me as a player. When something is in the 'personal'
register, it means that it is as though the line is in dialogue with the
other lines, as a character in its own right. It's a *person*.

But sometimes, a line is important, but is not personal in this way.
It's important as a part of everything else, and so the everything else
plus that line is what's personal (or not).

By the way, I'm not saying that the clarinet part here is personal or
impersonal. (I think I've played it both ways.) I just wanted to draw
attention to the distinction.

The offbeat subito fortes in the violin part are seldom played enough,
in my opinion. They can be really dramatic.

> Variation 3: The theme is only implicit, and this time in a minor
> key. The viola solo is only distantly related to the theme, with
> occasional eighth note pairs in the string parts giving a hint of the
> theme pattern. The clarinet seems to me to need to stay deep in the
> background, with a covered tone, lightly sketching in the harmony --
> no more audible than the 1st violin's light wash of color in the
> second 4 bars of the first section. In the opening of the second
> section, the 1st violin does a faded version of the wild music, with
> an extended chromatic run followed by a descending chromatic run, like
> a tear running down your cheek.

I suppose in the spirit of my reversal of the wild/not-so-wild
dichotomy, I'd want to say that the violin part is a more intense rather
than a paler version of the beginning of B.

The other thing is that the first and second violins have a sort of
version of the theme, with octave transpositions. You can do that in
oils rather than as a light wash, if you find you like it. As before, I
think that the personal is the whole, rather than the viola part.

> Variation 4: The theme returns, implicitly in the first half,
> explicitly in the second half, while the clarinet and 1st violin trade
> decorative tracery over it. Once again, I think the clarinet and 1st
> violin usually play this too loud and soloistically.

Yup, agreed.

> The low strings are the solo. You're -- not the accompaniment, but
> the icing on the cake. In the second section, the clarinet recalls
> the leaps of variation 1, while the 1st violin chatters wildly, with
> a return to the theme with energetic decorations in the final part.
> Transition: Expends the energy of variation 4 and prepares the ground
> for what follows:
> Variation 5: This is not labeled a variation, but it clearly is. If
> you listen while thinking of the theme, everything fits perfectly. In
> the first 4 bars, the 1st violin decorates and develops the theme. In
> the second 4 bars, the clarinet does the same, bringing in and
> transforming the chromatic figures from variation 3. In the second
> section, the wildness is magnified to gigantic size in the clarinet's
> 32nd note rips, with a transition back to the now heavily chromatic
> theme.
> Transition: Comparatively simple chord changes and then a long note
> over a crunching tone cluster, resolving to perfect harmony.
> Variation 6 [?]: This starts out like another variation, with the 4
> bar statement and 4 bar response. However, instead of repeating, the
> character and harmony change and don't fit the harmony of the first 8
> bars, as they would if it were a simple repeat (as in the prior
> variations). However, it sort of fits with the harmony of the second
> section (i.e., the repeat is omitted), and instead of wildness, Mozart
> goes the opposite way and becomes more delicate. Then the first and
> second sections are played (without repeats) again.

The dominant pedal and the hurdy-gurdy quality of the character of the
fadeout are worth noting, I think. You can get the second violin and
viola to play very 'reedily', and do so yourself.

I remember once in Holland we were asked for an encore. By chance, the
chairs we had were swivel chairs, and so we decided we would play this
variation 6[?], setting our chairs going round and round and pulling our
feet up when we got to the hurdy-gurdy bit. The cello could do this too
because she wasn't using a spike.

I thought it was a good joke -- and a musical one too.

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE GMN artist:
tel/fax 01865 553339

... FLATTERY: telling a person exactly what he thinks of himself.

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