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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000065.txt from 2001/04

From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subj: [kl] REsponse to Stewart
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2001 02:20:11 -0400

With respect to your paragraph which reads (in part):

"What is your favorite food? And what is your "rational reason" for
preferring it? Sorry, I must restrain myself because I realize that we
are so far apart in our understanding of aesthetics and taste that I am
convinced there is no way to bridge the gap and I respect you too much
to get into any kind of acrimony here."

Your point deserves a response.

As an eater of food who never made any money doing it, I can and do
chose things based on how I feel. As a listener of music, I do the same
thing. But as a player, I suggest that most of what we do needs to be
thought out very carefully, with all of the subjectivity removed. We
(should) play things in a certain way because there is a historical,
technical, or psychological purpose to playing them in that way, and
doing it differently runs the risk of making the music sound awkward, or
an anachronism.

Show me a player who is about the perform K. 622 and who holds the view
that s/he does not need to study the work from a variety of perspectives
including historical and/or informed performance practice, and I'll show
you a person who would just as soon put a hoop skirt on the Venus de
Milo, "because it feels right. It's a lovely dress on a lovely statue."

We have a responsibility to the music. I am confident that you feel
that also. Those responsibilities force us into constant questioning
about why and how we are doing things. A paid performer cannot take the
position that "some people like asparagus and some don't," or at least I
suggest that the paid performer should not do that with respect to how
s/he plays.

As an example, I mention Vladimir Horowitz, an extraordinary technician
who could do anything on the piano, but one who, in my opinion, had no
musical idea of what he was doing. And that is because, whenever he
approached a piano, all he had was 7 tons of technique and no
understanding of the music he was about to perform.

It's the same way with vibrato. Perhaps I misunderstood your earliers
statement and questioned it with the belief that you were speaking in
broad terms rather than small and personal ones. But I suggest that
before anyone uses or refuses to use vibrato on a clarinet, there is a
great deal of personal baggage that has to be thrown away, and a serious
investigation made of the purpose, use, and character of the technique.

See, no acrimony. Two nice people expressing their views on something.
** Dan Leeson **
** **

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