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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000371.txt from 2002/06

From: Mark Gustavson <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Schumann's 'Romances'
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2002 13:57:47 -0400

I find it interesting that Schumann didn't want a clarinet playing an oboe
piece. From our perspective we hardly see any difference: no range
problems, neither can play more than one note at a time and dexterity isn't
a problem. What was Schumann thinking about? It's really a kind of
post-structuralist question. We only know that Schumann didn't want
clarinetists to play this simple and straight forward piece which actually
isn't so straight forward because Schumann has this prefatory remark.
Perhaps it isn't wrong for clarinetist to play the piece as long as they
think about the remark and come up with an answer but certainly don't ignore
it. Timbre must have been an issue. One should become well acquaintance with
the oboe's performance, what types of colors are created throughout. I don't
think it is necessary to "sound like an oboe" but it is necessary to try to
come close to the relative qualities an oboe imparts. For example, when a Bb
clarinet goes from throat A# to long B there is a relative difference that
is not shared with an oboe going from G# to A. When an oboe plays
consecutive leaps it has a different relative timbre compared to the
clarinet which to my ear sounds stiffer to the oboe's more elastic result.
Perhaps Schumann heard a clarinetist play it and didn't like it. Would Bach
like a 9' grand piano sound of the Goldberg Variations? Gould certainly
thought about the relative timbres of the two instruments when he worked out
his performances. He even experimented by put tacks inside the hammers.

The Prokofiev analogy is interesting. For the longest time I only knew the
flute version. When I finally heard the violin version I thought it was thin
sounding but grittier if that is understandable. The flute has a thicker
tone but the violin has a greater range of articulation throughout its

As far as publishers go, they are businessmen and untrustworthy and keep
historians in business. Maybe that prefatory note was the publishers idea to
create a buzz. Look, it's still an issue 170 years later.

William Wright wrote:

> <><><> I wrote:
> I hope the above...
> <><> Tony Pay wrote:
> ...don't you mean, 'below'?
> Yes, I do. <obligatory jest about knowing which way is up>
> ==========
> <><> But to produce an edition that differs from the composition
> *destroys information* if the differences between the edition and what
> the composer wrote aren't made explicit.
> Agreed. I *did* misunderstand you.
> ==========
> <><> The case of the Schumann Romances is a sort of half-way-house,
> because providing the clarinet part encourages clarinettists to buy them
> and play them; whereas telling you that Schumann didn't want them played
> on the clarinet (presumably) discourages clarinettists from buying and
> playing them. So in a way, the publisher is offending and explaining the
> offence at the same time.
> This is where the pair of us begin --- emphasis on "begin" because we
> can see a fork in the road ahead, but we aren't quite there yet --- this
> is where we begin to have a difference of opinion. It's obvious that
> an instructor should encourage a student to go in the proper direction,
> if there is a clear 'proper direction'; but to what extent does a
> publisher or composer play the role or have the obligation of being an
> instructor, or of being the defender of a certain point of view?
> Cheers,
> Bill
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------

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