Klarinet Archive - Posting 000072.txt from 2002/02
From: Tony@-----.uk (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] Brahms 4 and Op 114
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 04:52:29 -0500
On Tue, 05 Feb 2002 23:35:59 -0500, mactrek@-----.com said:
> We're playing the first movement of Brahms 4 in orchestra. At the
> begining, and several times later, the winds have a figure of quarter
> note rest quarter note, quarter note , quarter note rest, quarter
> note. The Notes are marked staccato, but there is a phrasing marking
> OVER the rest connected the two notes. I've seen this before in the
> first Brahms violin sonata. It suggests to string players a
> "breathing"...what does this mean for us? Is it a literal breath? I
> don't think so. Legato tongue, cheat the rest? help!
If you think, as I do, that Brahms's slur notation has 'classical'
significance, then a very natural interpretation of this sign is that
the first crotchet under the slur is 'slightly more stressed' than the
second. (I put the phrase in inverted commas to indicate that what is
meant by 'slightly more stressed' can be very subtle, and involve
tone-colour as well or instead of dynamics.) The other sense of the
slur, namely connection, is also present, and 'breathing' is quite a
good way of describing that for me. (Imagine pausing slightly after
both inhalation and exhalation, to create the written quarter note
For string players, a slur also almost invariably means a bowing, (each
pair of notes is played in the same direction of bowing) and thinking of
it in this way also generates both hierarchy and connection.
There is a similar notation in the slow movement of the Trio, Op 114.
You can see it in bar 10 of the clarinet part.
Interestingly enough, in Brahms's manuscript, the dot over each first
note is a line whenever this offbeat 'answer' to the main line occurs;
this makes it clear that he intended a hierarchy. Perhaps he found that
putting in the line made players overdo it, and so reverted to the
simple dot in the first published edition, relying on the implication of
the classical phrase to establish the hierarchy.
Of course, nowadays most people are oblivious to the rhythmic
implications of the written classical phrase, as I've said here many,
_________ Tony Pay
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