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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000834.txt from 2004/10

From: Andy Jablonski <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Mozart, Don Giovanni, and Tony Pay
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 14:50:51 -0400

Just out of curiosity, where does the word 'Basset' come from?

-----Original Message-----
From: dnleeson []=20
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 11:32 AM
Subject: RE: [kl] Mozart, Don Giovanni, and Tony Pay

Tony, you have a bunch of historical and musical stuff mixed up,
judging from your note on the subject.

First, the name: while it true that the soprano clarinet that
descends to low written C is called a basset clarinet, it's just
a clarinet with some extra keys. Thus, the work that Mozart
wrote for it is a clarinet concerto. If you want to be super
precise, one could say that he wrote a basset clarinet concerto.
But there is a limit to how far one needs to define individual
peculiarities of the several different members of the B-flat
soprano clarinet family. For example, one does not play the cat
solo from Peter and the Wolf on a "Full Boehm Descending To Low
E-flat, B-flat Clarinet." It's just a clarinet that happens to
descend that low, and its rare enough that the solo is invariably
played on an A clarinet. And there are special keys that one can
get on a particular model clarinet that are not present on a
different model, and these peculiarities do not find their way
into a name description. So why should the basset clarinet
somehow be treated differently?

It's just a clarinet, that's all. It happens to descend to low
written C. But that supplement does not really require a special
name as you suggest. It could, of course, but the Germans would
called it "=FCberflussig" or "over specified."

Insofar as what came first, that's clear. He wrote (or began) a
concerto for basset horn and orchestra and then changed his mind
for whatever reason. By the way, it was a basset horn in G, but
the pitch of the instrument rarely sneaks in to a discussion of
the work.

I'm curious to know why you think that there is some kind of
conspiracy theory associated with the basset clarinet. From my
perspective, it's a very simple story. Only because the
instrument disappeared and did not reappear until Dazeley's 1948
paper speculating about such an instrument, has there begun a
mystery about it. There was no mystery. Stadler had three of
them, one in A, one in B-flat, and one in C. They all went down
to low C. So? Nu?? Wha?

Dan Leeson

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Wednesday, October 27, 2004 10:48 AM
Subject: Re: [kl] Mozart, Don Giovanni, and Tony Pay

The BBC listed the 'Performance on 3' concert with Tony Pay as
Mozart`s Clarinet Concerto and not Mozart`s Bassett Clarinet
I wish everyone could finally decide once and for all what
instrument this
concerto was written for. Would we call the W. Walton viola
concerto a
concerto for violin? Is Elgar`s cello a viola?

I recently played a piano acc. to the slow movement being played
on the
bassett. (The performer like me, a pianist as well, also played
the Chopin
Fantasie Impromptu - without any wrong notes). The player stood,
and used a
metal rod (fixed to the bell) which rested on the floor to
support the
instrument. I believe Emma Johnson uses a sling. Do we know what
players used - Stadler? And would Tony Pay let us know what he
uses and
prefers. I forgot (!!) to ask if I could hold the instrument at
performance - I would dearly like to experience what it`s weight
is, if
nothing else - you see I`m afraid that similar thoughts occur in
me, to what
our other colleague expressed in here a few days ago. I have to
express that I also am not a fan of the bassett instrument.

Could this following situation have arisen? Mozart and Stadler in
a chicken
and egg situation. What came first, the bassett or the concerto?
knowing the bassett, Mozart would have written the concerto for
the 'A'
clarinet - wouldn`t he? And maybe without the fiendish break
in the last movement. Could he have done so tho`, and then when
Stadler had
introduced him to the Bassett, Mozart set about revising his
original draft.
If the *bassett* came first, then where is the bassett`s other
music, the
repertoire, for this instrument? Stadler must have invested some
into it`s design and manufacture. He would have wanted more than
just one
piece of music to help him recoup his investment. He was after
all a
skin-flint - he didn`t pay Mozart for the concerto. When
eventually the
bassett fell out of favour, the subsequent editor(s) then moved
the ACGC etc
passage (what may not have been in Mozart`s original 'A' clarinet
draft) up
to the break notes. Not incredible I`ll say!

There`s something not quite right about all aspects of
concerning the bassett, which, if you ask me, requires another
novel (we ain`t gonna get the truth) from someone!

I thought of it first - All Rights Reserved!

Tony W.

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