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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000158.txt from 2007/12

From: Robert Howe <>
Subj: [kl] Mendelssohn Reformation Symphony
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 18:34:00 -0500

IF I recall correctly, the first and fourth movements of the Reformation
call for C clarinet, the middle two for Bb. With all due respect to the
gentleman who started this thread, here is no need to buy a transposed part.
It takes 20 minutes to learn how to read a C part at sight. This is a
rudimentary skill which I learned at age 13; any player who cannot do this
has no right to call himself a "clarinetist". Once you learn the skill, you
have it forever.

What is unsaid in all of this (or if it has been said, I missed it) is that
the substitution of Bb for C clarinet here is musically invalid. The fact
that people do it all the time does not make it right; people run stop
signs, cheat on their wives, and understate their taxable income, too.
Combinations involving middle of the staff B and C# were awkward on the 13
key clarinet of Mendelssohn's day; Mendelssohn would have used A clarinets
in the fourth movement (D major) if his choice of instrument was based on
facility. Clearly he wanted a brighter sound in the two outer movements.

Clarinet players should be willing to have the instrument to give it to
him--and to Strauss, and to Mahler, and to Brahms, and to the wealth of
European composers on the 19th and early 20th centuries who requested C

Oboe players buy a $7500 oboe d'amore for Bach. Clarinet players should buy
a $2000 C clarinet for Mahler, Beethoven, J. Strauss, R. Strauss, Schubert,
Mozart, Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Haydn...I think I've made my point!

Best Christmas wishes to all,

Robert Howe


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