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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000413.txt from 2004/10

From: Adam Michlin <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Mozart
Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 11:33:06 -0400

At 02:32 PM 10/15/2004 +0100, Tony Pay wrote:
> > The judging tends to be "did they play all the notes" as opposed to any
> > thought of music.
>How do you know this? I'd tend to think that it was only the 'worst' judging
>that was of that sort, if indeed such judging existed. Not everyone is as
>stupid as you like to think.

I can only go by my experience. This was a hot debate amongst the
California music community when the Copland was announced. I can tell you
that is not safe to assume that the person doing the judging was a clarinet
player (I know of a specific case where the person judging the flute tapes
was a french horn player).

I've had many students play in these honor band and have been consistently
bewildered by their placement (both in terms of too high and too low). The
common thread appeared to be who played the most notes on the page (very
few could play all of them, but we're talking about the Copland...). Maybe
I'm a bad teacher, I rarely feel my high school students are qualified to
play Rose, too.

What other logic is there for using the Copland Clarinet Concerto as a high
school audition piece? Unless Weber, Mozart, Brahms and the whole host of
their contemporaries are really too easy for today's students?

There is a very valid case for not just rotating the 4 most famous pieces
(California did this when I was a student) year by year. Varying this
rotation is a good thing, varying it with the Copland Concerto, I'm not so

>Of course, to play *anything* really well is hard. Though a really gifted
>child may stun even the most hard-boiled jury in Mozart, my own view is that,
>because what is required of a performer to play Mozart well divides even the
>most able musicians, you're better off setting a piece that at least asks
>explicitly in the notation what is required of the performer.

I have yet to find a piece that "asks explicitly in the notation what is
required of the performer". Could you suggest such a piece? (Sorry, I
couldn't resist).

Tony does make an important point, there is only one edition of the Copland
Clarinet Concerto, I've lost track of how many editions of the Mozart
Clarinet Concerto there are. I should point out that in such state wide
competitions the edition is always specified (in the case of Mozart,
California requires the Carl Fischer edition). With an edition agreed upon,
the issue of explicit notation (I know what Tony meant) isn't much of a
problem (choice of editions... I will complain about another day).

I do believe Mozart is more difficult. Mozart played without grace is much
more painful than Copland without grace (I'm tempted to reference Benny
Goodman playing both, but I'm honestly not as disappointed with his
classical playing as others may be). Additionally, everyone on the planet
knows Mozart. There just isn't anywhere to hide (which, I suspect, is what
makes it so popular in professional orchestral auditions). Butcher Copland
and the clarinetists know, butcher Mozart and *everyone* knows.

This is all the more reason to use Mozart instead of Copland.

>Though doing that, the Copland cadenza has the disadvantage that there are
>several recordings that, self-centredly in my opinion, piss about
>unnecessarily with what is written, and so confuse a young performer as to
>what may be required in an audition. If that were not the case, one could at
>least say, hey, you don't play the accents differently from the other notes,
>or make them make sense in context; you don't do the dynamics; you don't obey
>the tempo indications; etc etc.
>However, I wouldn't say that it is really very technically demanding.

Yet another reason why the Copland is an absolutely terrible audition
piece. Interpretation of the cadenza is all over the place!

"Technically demanding" is such a relative term. I think we can agree
Copland is more technically demanding than Mozart or Brahms. I haven't met
many young students students who have so mastered Mozart and Brahms that
they have to start playing Copland. I will readily admit, however, that
there are many students who feel Mozart and Brahms are too easy for them...
but these tend to be the ones who have additionally "mastered" the Rose Etudes.

To be clear, Copland may be more technically demanding, but Mozart is
equally (if not more so) demanding from a musical point of view.

Mozart is only difficult if you concern yourself with what is not written
on the page. Of course, what is not written on the page is the music.


PS: Lest anyone on the list think I'm directing my comments directly at
Tony, please rest assured I am well aware of Tony's wonderful ability to
play music.

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