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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000133.txt from 2002/02

From: (Tony Pay)
Subj: [kl] Survival of the basset clarinet
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 14:07:40 -0500

On Sat, 9 Feb 2002 02:53:19 -0000, said:

> I know lots of clarinettists` specialise, like Tony Pay, but for some
> reason he is not coming forward at present to tell us whilst there are
> 7, 9, or 10 keyed boxwood Bb clarinets being used to play the Webers`
> on, he, (nor anyone else) is coming forward to tell me why there is no
> equivalent 7, 9, or whatever is necessary keywork "boxwood" basset
> clarinet to play the Mozart on. Perhaps there is. I really would like
> to be informed what the position is, - what I am calling an anomaly.
> Boxwood for Weber and new grenadilla or greenline for Mozart is NOT
> RIGHT. Whadya think?

Just found this one, too. But I think I answered your question in my
reply to the other one. You can get a boxwood basset clarinet made by a
number of people. Steve Fox, Brian Ackerman, Tutz....

> The usual number of strings on a bass guitar is 4. Then another one
> was added. And now we have believe it or not 6 stringed bass guitars.
> No one ever uses these additional registers in written/composed music.
> They have been added purely for the pyrotechnic rock (or folk)
> enthusiastic whiz kid strummer. I`m sure this was the same reason why
> the basset clarinet was "invented/experimented with", - ultimately to
> fall out of favour. Meanwhile Stadler wanted to "show off" a bit, and
> he conned our dear Wolfgang into writing him some of the world`s most
> beautiful music.

I think that what is known as the QWERTY effect is at work here. There
is in my opinion no really good reason why the basset clarinet didn't
persist, except that its development occurred at the end of Stadler's
career and Mozart's life. (There's also the story that he lost/pawned a
bag containing the instrument and Mozart's manuscript score.) If
Stadler had gone on playing the Concerto, IMO there's a strong
probability that our standard instruments would now extend to low C.

Alan Hacker made a strong attempt to resuscitate the basset clarinet,
against the QWERTY effect, by organising that it be included in several
works for the Pierrot Players/Fires of London by Maxwell Davies,
Birtwistle and others. But that wasn't enough. So our 'best' piece is
now most usually played in a mangled version on an instrument for which
it wasn't written.

It's hard now to recapture our thoughts at the time when Alan Hacker was
pioneering performances of the piece on the correct instrument. I
myself had a sort of reticence, I now don't know quite why, in asking
Ted Planas to make me a basset clarinet. I sort of felt it was Alan's
territory. Whereas, of course, it was something between me and Mozart,
just as it's something between all of you out there and Mozart.

Now, that's obvious to me. I suppose it came to be obvious largely
because of the invitation by Hogwood to record the piece on a real
period reconstruction. Then I got involved without feeling that I was

It's ironic that the instrument I now use with a modern orchestra was
actually constructed by Alan and Ted Planas. It came to me via Lesley
Schatzberger. (You can see a photograph of it in Brymer's book.)

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

... DOS Tip #3 : Don't use DOS.


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