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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000180.txt from 2008/05

From: "Daryll Stevens" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Re: Gnarly buttons
Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 11:09:49 -0400

Very late comment...I agree with Sean, the quality of the performance
makes a huge difference in appreciation of the piece. And, I got a =
to play his Chamber Concerto (cl/bass cl part). Terrific piece! And an
opportunity I'll never forget...


Daryll Stevens
Music Librarian
Albert Seay Library of Music and Art
Clarinet Instructor
Colorado College
(719) 389-6126
(719) 389-6561

-----Original Message-----
From: Sean Osborn []=20
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 8:19 AM
Subject: [kl] Re: Gnarly buttons

Of course I feel the need to encourage you all to look at Gnarly Buttons
again. It is the equal of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. It is also the
most moving and accurate depiction of death I have ever heard in music,
even better than "Death and Transfiguration." If you dissagree, I urge
you give it one last chance and listen to the last movement of my posted
performance from a few years ago. The link is on the bottom of

John Adams plays the clarinet, and he plays his fathers instrument. =
he was writing this piece, his father was dying of Alzheimer's. "Put =
loving arms around me" is not only the title of the last movement, but =
rhythm of every clarinet utterance for the first 4 minutes of the piece
(with some variation towards the end). It's as if he is pleading with
someone who no longer recognizes him. Gradually, you hear the fear and
anger of Alzheimer's in his father taking over, until he's fighting,
shrieking, and ultimately...fading away. Please don't dismiss a piece
that can reduce audiences to tears.

As for the Hoe Down - it's just so COOL! And funny. From a Rhythmic =
slightly academic) point of view - it's quite interesting and complex. =
also enjoy the fact that it's a spoof of a real hoe down, and pokes fun =
certain kinds of music.

The first movement is probably a made up tune (yes, tune!) that Adams
attributes to "protestant shape-note hymns." "The Perilous Shore"=20
evokes a stern 19th Century task-mistress or school-marm harping on =
to stay moral an upright. It's not happy music. It's not romantic =
but it IS expressive and evocative (and not just my version). Following
the cadenza, things get interesting, and yes, COOL again, especially on
the last page, where it's like a Model-T Ford breaking down on some =
back-road highway!

I would also like you all to consider that perhaps the performances you
have heard didn't do the music justice. I never liked the Brahms piano
concertos until I heard Andre Watts play the second last year, and fell =
love with it. When the Nielsen first came out, people couldn't look =
the technique to find the music underneath. I think that might be the
case hear. Give it another try.

It is truly a magnificent work, and we are blessed to have it.




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