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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000516.txt from 2003/06

Subj: Re: [kl] Period basset horns (was: Purchase of Orchestral parts)
Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 18:28:06 -0400

Reply to David Dow

----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Leeson" <>
Subject: Re: [kl] Period basset horns (was: Purchase of Orchestral parts)

> Concerning the note below, I am not sure if it is to Larisa or to David
> that I am writing, so forgive me if I get the gender backwards.
> Forgive me for offering this disagreement, but I find that that basset
> horn projects spectacularly well in the very area that Larisa/David
> speaks of. That instrument may sound like one is playing into a stuffed
> sofa from the player's point of view, but it projects like a bell from
> the audience point of view. A basset horn player (on a contemporary
> instrument) needs to cut the volume down because it generally projects
> better than the player thinks.
> Insofar as the suggestion that "Mozart really intended the basset
> horn..." there isn't much of a question about this. Two basset horns
> are defined by Mozart on the first page of the manuscript, so any
> subsequent use of the instrument within the Requiem is de facto
> acceptable. However, I do note that the basset horns solos (in the
> Benedictus and Lacrymosa) are NOT by Mozart because no part of the
> Benedictus exists in Mozart's hand -- it is entirely a Süssmayr
> composition -- and the Lacrymosa is only an 8 meaure sketch with most of
> the composition of the work being done by Süssmayr.
> Finally, the suggestion that perhaps French horns should have been used
> is problematic for two reasons. First, there are no French horns in the
> Requiem, and second, the use of French horns in church music of Mozart's
> day was VERY rare.
> There is no evidence at all that Mozart intended the use of basset horn
> in G in the Requiem. Your suggestion means that if basset horns in G
> were really used, the parts would all be in the worst possible keys for
> the instrument.
> Dan
> > Interestingly enough this is one of the areas of perfromance with the
> > Requiem that gives clarinet players such a trial. The Basset Horn
> > does not project in the area where the majority of the Requiem K626
> > requires...for example the opening note of the Bendectus on the Basset
is a
> > Concert F, fine and dandy, but on the brass counterpart this is
certainly a
> > more flexible and projectile sound.
> >
> > That being said I am still convinced that Mozart really intended the
> > horn, but on some pretext or maybe even lack of communication forgot or
> > didn't discuss orchestration problems with Sussmayr. I also know that
> > solo in the Lacrymosa is another bugger to prject and begins one more
> > on the same note......
> >
> > It would certainly be interesting to hear the French horn play the licks
> > the opening where the Bassets come in close harmony....this is one of
> > more delicious spots in the entire piece.
> >
> > This also brings me to mind whether or not the G Basset Horn maybe was
> > due to the structure of the Cocert G major or minor this
> > have given the sound quite a different colouring....hmmmm
> >
> > After years of playing in orchestra I can certainly say the Requiem is
> > really a tough part especially if the conductor is inept at
> > orchestral balances....very few recent recording allow the Bassett horns
> > emerge in a natural way....usually engineers who are playing with the
> > buttons tend to put an unnatural forward balance on the few bits or
> > they remain submerged in a quagmire of texture.....Decca seems the worst
> > iverdoing unnatural glaring balances in music like this...
> --
> ***************************
> **Dan Leeson **
> ** **
> ***************************
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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