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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000121.txt from 2002/02

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: Re: [kl] Period clarinet reproductions and performance.
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 06:05:55 -0500

On Thu, 7 Feb 2002 05:27:38 -0000, said:

> I have Tony Pay`s period clarinet recordings of the Weber concertos. I
> also have 3 recordings (not Tony`s) of the Mozart concerto, 2 played
> on the normal modern "A" instrument, and 1 on the modern "A" basset
> clarinet. I can see an anomaly here.
> My first question - if I may, is not solely directed at Tony, but he
> may be able to shed some light on my query. Is there a period "A"
> basset clarinet? Have any been manufactured for clarinettists` like
> Tony, who wish to perform the Mozart as it may probably have been
> originally performed? I believe no original basset clarinets have been
> discovered, but today`s intelligent engineering must be able to
> reproduce something very close to what the originals must have worked
> and looked like. This being the case, why is the Mozart still being
> performed on <modern> basset instruments when it is very common to
> perform the Weber works on repro period instruments? - in some cases,
> original period instruments.

Hi, Tony. Sorry to hear you've not been well. Sorry not to have
replied, but I missed reading this somehow the first time through.

The basset clarinet I play on that recording is a copy of a Viennese A
clarinet by Kaspar Tauber in Nick Shackleton's collection, modified and
extended by Daniel Bangham and Ted Planas. With period orchestras,
anyone playing the Mozart uses such a reconstruction.

Since doing this in 1984, research by Pamela Poulin has shed some more
light on the instrument Stadler used, because there's a drawing of it on
a programme of a concert in Riga that Stadler played. Eric Hoeprich has
copied this instrument, which has a bulbous bell at right angles to the
body of the instrument. I won't go on, as it's all been fairly well
covered here before, and is in the archives.

I think, contra your assertion, that it's really quite uncommon to
perform the Weber concertos on period instruments. I certainly haven't
done so for several years, although perhaps I should make the effort to
organise to do so again. I do play the Gran Duo sometimes, and I'm sure
that Eric does too.

> My second question is mainly directed at the professional performers.
> It is probably only they who will be able to shed light on this - what
> are the views of the professional concert artiste booking agencies, or
> orchestral managements towards a clarinettist who still wishes to
> perform the Mozart (or the Webers`) on modern instruments, especially
> the modern normal "A" clarinet for the Mozart. Concerning the Mozart,
> is the modern normal "A" taboo these days, or are the orchestras` not
> bothered which instrument is used?

Unless the conductor asks specifically, I think that the normal A is
accepted without question. Of course, an impresario (!) might ask for a
basset clarinet deliberately, and then would have to be accommodated.

When I played the Mozart on an extended instrument (original instrument
by Doelling, c.1850, modern extension by Ted Planas) in San Diego a
couple of years ago, a member of the orchestra said to me incredulously,
"Who suggested you played it on *that*!?" with strong tomato

Because, of course, it doesn't sound like a conventional clarinet --
small-bore mouthpiece, simple fingering system (in fact, I've closed
several of the holes, like throat G# and the trill keys) and so on. I
play on this instrument whenever I have to do the piece at A=440, and
it's quite powerful enough to go well with a modern orchestra.

> Without involving audiences who sometimes can have funny toffee-nosed
> attitudes, which sometimes cannot be ignored, what is the "musical"
> clarinet world moving towards? I s`pose I`m a bit "old fashioned" `cos
> I can`t stand the sound of a basset clarinet. To me it`s like a flute
> AND piccolo all in one instrument, or an oboe and cor, or a bassoon
> and contra, or even a trumpet and trombone.

Don't know whether that's an old-fashioned attitude: Mozart clearly
didn't agree. The idea of the three different octave registers
contribute significantly to the character of the piece, in my view.
(See my short article, "Playing the Mozart clarinet concerto" in CASS
magazine, to appear.)

> And finally, for the historians, I believe that as the clarinet was
> still in it`s development stage in that era of Weber and Mozart,
> experiments were being made 100`s of times to find a "nice" sounding
> instrument. Mozart just happened by accident(?) to come across the
> basset experiment, and he wrote for it.

He wrote, really, for Stadler; but he was very fond of the bassethorn,
as we know. 'By accident' isn't right.

Perhaps you'd like to look up the history of all of this. Colin Lawson
has written a 'Cambridge Companion' to the work which covers the ground.

> It then faded into obscurity, and his publishers, maybe even he
> himself then had to re-write it for the new instrument - the normal Bb
> and A, quickly gaining in popularity over the basset. Plausible?

See the above.

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

... The gold I want is buried in the sky.


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