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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000233.txt from 2001/05

From: David Glenn <notestaff@-----.de>
Subj: [kl] Clarinet Symposium in Basle
Date: Wed, 9 May 2001 05:29:25 -0400

Thanks be to Dan Leeson for announcing the clarinet symposium in Basle
to the list! For everybody's benefit, I'll report as briefly as I
manage. (This still gets a bit long I'm afraid)

I live only 25 km (15-16 mi.) from the conservatory in Basle where it
was held but I hadn't known about it before Dan's e-mail. As it turned
out, I wasn't the only one who came because of that. Talking to the
organizer, it turned out that it was not advertised. Nevertheless in the
hall where it was held there was hardly an empty chair. Thanks to local
government subsidy it was completely free. (The most expensive thing was
parking in the near-by garage for nearly 20 franks - or around $12 US).
Unfortunately, I had to leave after the lunch break as I had a concert
to play in Basle in the afternoon and some lessons which I couldn't
cancel *yet again*.

First of all - it was great!

The first event (which was actually only loosely connected to the
symposium) was a concert on Monday evening. (Again, I was only able to
attend the second half). It was entitled "Der Hirt auf dem Felsen"
(Shephard on the Rock). The second half also began with the piece of
this name by Schubert. The performers were: Agnieszka Kowalczyk -
Soprano, Pierre-André Taillard - historical clarinet and Edoardo
Torbianelli - fortepiano. Cowalczyk sang beautifully though occasionally
a bit too powerful at the top for my taste. Taillard played with great
dynamic contrast and very expressivly. I wonder if he wasn't using a
"modernly" open mouthpiece. I only know his playing from a recording of
the Mozart concerto on historical basset clarinet. This was a completely
different sort of sound and style - as befits the music. The next and
last piece was the Grand Duo Concertant by C.M.v.Weber. It was very
exciting to hear this on an historical clarinet. The shades of tone
color on this instrument seem so enriching. Of course there are more
technical difficulties as well but the occassional problems didn't
disturb the music. Long enthusiastic applaus. After about three bows,
the singer also came back on for the encore - one of the Spohr songs
which must have been sung in the first half.

As for the Symposium:

The title was "Die Klarinette um 1800" (The clarinet around 1800)
Subtitle: "Ein Symposium der Musikhochshule [Conservatorium] Basel und
der Schola Contorum Basilienis [conservatory for historical music
practice]. Held on 8 May 2001 at the Musik-Akademie der Stadt Basel,
Kleiner Saal.

Each speaker was limited to half an hour.

The first speaker at 9:30 was Thomas Gebhard from Bornheim (Germany). He
read a report about the clarinet which had been published in the
Leipziger Allgemeinen Musikalischen Zeitung in 1808. The article was by
a non-professional musician. Some insights into contemporary views were
offered. It was interesting to see how important the clarinet appeared
to be in society at that time.

At 10:00 came Hans-Rudolf Stalder (former solo-clarinetist in Zurich and
retired teacher at the Basle conservatory and pioneer on historical
instruments). He showed us two original basset horns from around this
time and informed us that the basset horn was not the only instrument
with an "amour" shaped bell. We saw a picture of an oboe d'accacia
(spelling?) as an example. Stalder speculated as to why the basset horn
got its name. The first instruments were shaped in a curve with a large
metal bell therefor appearing somewhat horn-like. The old clarinets were
perhaps more trumpet like (hence the name). He also told us of music
composed for basset horn.

Many people used the following break to get a good look at the two
historical instruments and talk to Mr. Stalder.

At 11:00 came Francois Benda (professor of clarinet in Basle and
Berlin). His lecture was entitled, "A suggested interpretation for the
clarinet concerto K622 by Mozart, based on an analysis of the score". In
passionate, evervescent, almost breathless style and with a slight
French accent, Msr.Benda pleaded for listening to the harmonic
progressions in the score and, as a soloist not to go against the grain.
As a negative example a recording (anonymous) was played. This seemed to
cause some controversy but there was no time for a detailed argument.

(After) 11:30 came Eric Hoeprich (from Amsterdam I thought but now I
know he originally comes from California). His lecture was entitled "New
Discoveries About Mozart's Clarinet Concerto KV622. For me, this was the
absolute high point of the day. (In all fairness, I wasn't there for the
following speakers.) Mr. Hoeprich told us of the program which Pamela
Poulin found in Riga which announces Stadler's playing of the Mozart
concerto and shows a drawing of a basset clarinet. On attempting to copy
this instrument in his workshop, Mr. Hoeprich made some startling
discoveries. First of all, the "amour"-shaped bell makes a much
different sound in the low register than the traditional clarinet bell
which he demonstrated for us. Second of all, the bell joint produced not
a low C - but a low B natural until he bored an extra hole (as is also
visible in the program). Why did one writer report that the basset
clarinet had 5 (sic) extra low tones? Well, Mr. Hoeprich bored the hole
and got his low C like that. Then he told us that he had always been
bothered by that passage in the last movement (starting at m.145). If
not for the low B, it could be played down an octave which would seem to
fit better. Well, darn it! What did he do but played it down an octave!!
He got the low B by covering the hole with his knee. I'll have to have
my extended clarinets extended further. Basset clarinet makers, you've
gotten it wrong up until now! We need a low B!

The schedule for after the lunch break was:
14:00 Jochen Seggelke (Bamberg) "The Clarinet Method by Joseph Froehlich
in Wuerzburg (ca. 1810) and the Clarinetist Phillip Meissner; Contexts,
Instruments, Compositions of the Latter)"
14:30 Pierre-André Taillard (Basel/La Chaux-de-Fonds) "Clarinet Music of
Carl Maria von Weber. Some Instructions"
15:00 David Ross (Univ. of Texas in El Paso) "Playing 18th-Century
Music: Modern Editions or Early Prints?"
16:00 René Hagmann (Geneva) "Boehm System for clarinets compared to
Oehler System. Latest Developments in Modern Clarinets)"
16:30 Charles Neidich (New York) "The Joy of Discovery: how playing
period clarinets can teach one how to play modern instruments."
17:00-17:30 Closing discussion

I hope Don and Cindy will report on the second half (and maybe more
details of the first half). I would love to hear about it.

David

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