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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000268.txt from 2002/02

From: Tony@-----.uk (Tony Pay)
Subj: [kl] Mozart gracenotes
Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2002 15:50:52 -0500

I said in a previous post that how you play the gracenote in the seventh
bar of the slow movement of the Mozart clarinet concerto depends on how
you play the previous two bars.

Someone asked me what I meant by that, and it might be worth explaining
one way of looking at the problem.

Each of the previous two bars has the rhythm, dotted quarter followed by
three eighth notes. How intensely you play those eighth notes is your
choice, as a peformer.

If you play them quite lightly (as in fact, I mostly prefer myself),
then the two bars each sound as though they are 'in one'. The intervals
between the eighths seem effortless. Then it's effective to do
something more radical with the third beat of bar 7 -- that is, use
the tension of putting the dissonant appoggiatura on the beat.

On the other hand, you might want the eighths to be more important, and
the leaps both to and between them to exhibit tension, going against the
'normal' classical bar-structure. Then, the more relaxed, off-beat
appoggiatura is a natural choice. There's also a more distant
relationship with the appoggiatura in bar 2 that's worth thinking about.

Apropos that appoggiatura (it is an appoggiatura, even though it's
written as a straight quaver): many years ago, I was giving a lesson in
a class on this movement to a young, not very talented clarinet player.
There were many things wrong with what she did, but the first obvious
one was that the last quarter of the second bar was much too short.
"Good," I said, and then, unwisely, given her level of playing, "but,
do you think that you could play that quarter note a little longer?" She
tried again. This time the note was long -- too long, longer than
written -- and ended very abruptly.

"Fine," I said, not seeing the hole I was digging for both of us, "but,
how about a bit of a diminuendo? We don't want it to sound as though
it's chopped off, do we?"

Now she was visibly unsettled. She began again, much less confidently,
and, as she got into the second bar, she did a long dimininuendo on the
F, looking sideways at me to see whether she'd 'done the right thing'.
Whatever had been 'right' about her playing up to then had also
evaporated.

Obviously I'd behaved like a bit of a fool; and nowadays, I'd adopt a
different strategy. But it was interesting for me at the time to
analyse one of the of the several reasons why I'd gone wrong: I'd failed
to appreciate that what was 'wrong' about her 'short' quarter wasn't so
much that it was shorter than written. It was that its length wasn't
appropriate to how she'd played the appoggiatura on the first beat of
the second bar.

If you play the appoggiatura in the second bar so that the G is very
light compared to the A, then you can play the F quarter really quite
short and still have it sound natural. On the other hand, if the
appoggiatura and the resolving note are played more sustained, then the
F quarter must have the same flattish shape to sound right. And, going
back to where we started, that may easily have an influence on how you
play the next appoggiatura in bar 7.

By the way, if all this sounds very complicated, you can bring it
into your experience, or the experience of your student, by singing it,
or in the case of a lesson, by having the student sing it. (You don't
have to have a good voice -- 'trying to sing it' is just as good:-)

Tony
--
_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd Tony@-----.uk
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE http://classicalplus.gmn.com/artists
tel/fax 01865 553339

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