Klarinet Archive - Posting 000367.txt from 2002/06
Subj: [kl] Schumann's 'Romances'
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 11:30:30 -0400
Re. playing these Schumann oboe pieces on clarinet, Tony Pay wrote,
>What about the 'modern' publisher -- is it OK for them to
>publish the clarinet part and leave the decision as to whether
>or not to play it up to you?
Interesting question. I have mixed feelings about all of this. I think it's
wrong to misrepresent the music we play. If it's a transcription, we must
say so. However, the clarinet repertory is so small, compared to the
repertory available for the piano and the violin, that I'm not only willing
but *eager* to steal other people's music! In fact, on bass sax, I do almost
nothing *but* transcribe, from anything that can be made to sound remotely
plausible on the old monster (Mozart's opera arias for bass; pedal lines from
Bach's organ music...). But then I'm not a professional and I don't have to
defend in public whatever I do.
Recordings such as "The Criminal Trombone" (BIS-CD-328), with Christian
Lindberg on trombone and Roland Pontinen on piano, don't bother me a bit.
The back cover says, "STOLEN WORKS," in large capital letters. The liner
notes explain clearly that the composers didn't write these pieces (which
include Schumann's "Romances," by the way) for trombone. The presentation is
completely straightforward with no intent to mislead; and the playing is
With all the interest today in preserving historical authenticity, I see
little danger of the transcriptions replacing the original compositions, as
sometimes happened with Baroque compositions in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. I wouldn't want to see Stokowski transcriptions *replace* real
Bach again. However, I don't see how it damages the composer's reputation or
insults his memory in the least to take liberties with earlier work, as long
as performances of the pieces as originally composed remain available and as
long as some musicians maintain scrupulous efforts to preserve antique
performances practices insofar as they're discoverable.
But what about something like the "Mozart" CD issued by Dabringhaus und Grimm
in 2000 (MDG-301 1000-2)? Dieter Kloecker wrote the liner notes and plays
clarinet (modern, not basset), with Mi-Young Chon on oboe, Jan Schroeder on
horn, Karl-Otto Hartmann on bassoon and the Czech Philharmonic Chamber
Orchestra with leader Pavel Prantl. On both front and back, the name
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart appears prominently, in large, bold lettering, with
no indication of any other hand in the composition except for the telltale
opus numbering of the playlist on the back:
Sinfonia Concertante KV C 14.01 = 297b
Variations after KV 382
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra KV C 14.06
In other words, everything on this CD is spurious!
This jacket (probably the fault of the record company; it's unlikely that the
musicians had any control over the cover design) bothers me, because I doubt
that the average buyer would notice the minutiae of the opus numbering. Most
people would buy this record with every expectation that it contains music by
Mozart. Moreover, it's clear from the liner notes that the people who
designed that cover didn't simply make an innocent mistake.
Dieter Kloecker's liner notes explain matters, though not always in plain
language; but of course, the purchaser can't read the liner notes without
buying the album and opening it, thereby rendering it non-returnable. Since
I did notice the opus numbering, I expected more or less what I got and felt
intrigued rather than hookwinked and furious. I suspect Mr. Kloecker of a
sense of humor, since each work is spurious in a different way. But I do
have qualms about marketing something in this tricky manner.
The authorship of the so-called Clarinet Concerto is disputed. The Schmidt
company turned up a manuscript of this piece in Europe, attributed it to
Mozart and published it, as an oboe concerto, in 1899, with revisions by E.
Naumann. It's unclear to me from Kloecker's liner notes whether or not
Naumann's revision explicitly suggested that the work was playable on
clarinet as well, or whether this was Kloecker's idea or someone else's.
Kloecker presents arguments by various musical scholars that this is a 19th
century work, not by Mozart.
The Variations are clarinetist Simeon Bellison's "St. Petersburg" clarinet
transcription of a genuine Mozart piece . . . for the piano.
The klarinet list already had a long discussion about the Sinfonia
Concertante. Dan Leeson argued convincingly that Mozart did not compose this
work. Find the discussion in the klarinet archives by using two different
spellings, "Sinfonia Concertante" and Dan's preferred "Sinfonie Concertante."
Most of the klarinet discussion took place in 1996. (I was not yet on the
list then and this recording had not yet been made.)
Regarding attribution, Kloecker begins straightforwardly enough that the
piece "presents some problems, not only as far as its authenticity is
concerned but also with respect to its instrumentation." But then his
wording becomes ambiguous enough to confuse the issue. (Although I'm not
qualified as a translator of German or French, it seems to me that the
ambiguity in this English translation by Susan Marie Praeder is also present
in the French translation by Sylvie Gomez and in Kloecker's original German.)
Kloecker writes that at age 20, Mozart sent to his father a description of a
Sinfonia Concertante for flute, oboe, horn and bassoon. Young Mozart sold
the work to the publisher LeGros but failed to keep a copy for himself. Le
Gros didn't publish this version. No copy of it has turned up. Kloecker
continues, "Mozart had some difficulties with this piece in Paris. As he
stated, he gave the work to LeGros to have it copied, but nothing happened.
Nothing came of the planned performance, either, even though the musicians
were very much taken by this piece. On the other hand, Mozart also wrote
that he continued to have the work in his thoughts and that the musicians
would be surprised when he wrote it out again in Vienna. Most probably, he
did indeed write it out again in Vienna, this time with clarinet, which in
the meantime had become more popular than the instruments still of baroque
orientation. And so, for me as a wind instrumentalist, Mozart's concertante
numbers among the most beautiful compositional creations that have come down
to us from the classical period."
Hmm. Exactly what is he saying here? Note the "most probably." I think
that, for all the talk about Mozart, Kloecker is really saying that the
composer of this arrangement of the Sinfonia without a flute and with a
clarinet is unknown--and on close reading, he's not really claiming that
Mozart wrote any earlier version, either. Mozart wrote something and had
trouble with it in Paris, but we have no way of knowing whether it was *this*
So the problem with that great big "Mozart" on the cover isn't all the fault
of the jacket designer, alas. Kloecker himself contributes to the
puzzlement. Nonetheless, despite my disagreement with the way Kloecker and
DG represent this CD, I think it's an excellent recording of music that
deserves to be heard. The audio quality is first-rate and the playing
likewise, though Kloecker doesn't sound quite as impeccable to me on this CD
as he did in the Cartellieri recordings. This time, in the highest notes, I
hear some shrill (even quacking) tone quality and a few intonation whoopsies.
As for the compositions, I don't think any of them rise to the level of K.
622, but I enjoy listening to them and I think they belong in the repertory.
If I'd had to take a wild guess about the composer of the Concerto, I would
have guessed a mid-19th C. reconstruction of earlier work: Mozart in the
first movement (which begins with a passage reminiscent of his opera
overtures) and Weber in the third movement, which is a Rondo Allegretto with
some phrases strikingly similar to passages in Weber's clarinet quintet. I
hope that future performers will make clear the questionable parentage of
these pieces and credit them to good old Mr. Anonymous or at most as
"attributed to Mozart," with an explanation.
My 2 cents.