Klarinet Archive - Posting 000102.txt from 2008/10
From: Tony Pay <tony.p@-----.org>
Subj: RE: [kl] Karl Leister K.622
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2008 10:09:23 -0400
On 20 Oct, Laurence Edward Young <klarinette@-----.net> wrote:
> ...[will this be] any less destructive to Mozart's 'intentions' (whatever
> they may have been) than all the editions ever published put
> together[?]...The problem with 'historical authenticity' is that it's a
> jealous God (and a false idol to boot!) casting all who disagree out of
> Paradise. Let us be careful when we make an offering to it.
I understand your concerns. However when you write:
> As Anton Stadler traveled around performing the concerto he was certainly
> 'penciling in' his own emendations for how he wanted to perform the piece.
> Had this edition been published and then the manuscript lost we'd be left
> with Stadler's performing version but no one would know what was Mozart's
> 'original' and what was Stadler's.
...I think you are missing the point.
What I am claiming is that Stadler WOULDN'T have been pencilling in his own
emendations, because that wasn't either necessary or possible. Nevertheless,
his performances, by all accounts, had tremendous expressive power.
The mind-shift that you have to make when playing the music of this period --
we'll come on to Weber, who was writing a bit later, in a moment -- is to see
Mozart's (to us) unadorned score as one that would have been bristling with
possibility to an eighteenth century player like Stadler.
In performing this music, even a bar of simple repeated quavers has a subtle
structure, following the 'normal' pattern of bar-beats. This structure
applies to the first clarinet phrase, for example: the second note is on a
lower level than the first. A phrase written 'across' such a bar structure
defeats the structure: see bars 70/71; and even one isolated note has a
That means that these structures may be more or less represented by a player.
So at any point in the piece, Stadler had a choice not only of tone colour
but of how 'shaped' his phrases were to be, plus whether that shape was to
be shown as timbral or dynamic variation; and any such choice would have
repercussions as the piece progressed.
No notation indicating 'degree of shape' (or 'amount of bounce' as I put it
earlier) has survived, and I think it unlikely that there ever was such a
thing. It's certainly not possible to indicate it effectively with dynamics
Compare the situation of discourse written to be spoken. The degree of
syllable emphasis is nowhere notated, though it is a parameter that is
exquisitely varied by an accomplished orator. Imagine writing in crescendos
and diminuendos to capture it, and you have something of an idea of how
inappropriate that is to classical music.
Mozart once wrote of a certain singer: "Raaff is too much inclined to drop
into the cantabile. I admit that when he was young and in his prime, this
must have been very effective and have taken people by surprise. I admit
also that I like it. But he overdoes it and so to me it often seems
Modern performances tend to start and *stay in* the cantabile, using
crescendi as the default mode of expression.
You might find it interesting to read my 'Phrasing in Contention':
...for further details.
> For a good example of this take Weber's two concerti. What are Weber's true
> intentions? Is it worthwhile trying to strip all of Baermann's additions
> off to get to some mythical 'authentic' Weber version? Does anyone want to
> hear someone perform the 'Henle-Urtext' version? (surely that name isn't
> designed to sell anything!)
When we come to Weber, it's worthwhile understanding that he was writing a
new sort of music against the background of the classical style. Performers
had lived in that classical world, and now romantic gesture was beginning to
invade it. Composers used the cantabile style because they became interested
in the depiction of personal emotion and endeavour, and of heroism.
Carl Baermann's editions capture something of how Heinrich Baermann responded
to the challenge. But Weber's music still often used the devices of the
classical style: appoggiatura, canonical bar-structure and so on. (Indeed,
so did Brahms, a much later example.)
So when I use the Henle-Urtext version, I take advantage of what I would say
is their highly responsible attitude. They provide me with what Weber wrote
-- a piece of historical evidence -- and Carl Baermann's memory of what his
father had done -- another piece of historical evidence.
And then, armed with my understanding of the classical style, I am able to
read Baermann's markings not as explicit modern instructions of what dynamics
to play, but as a tilting of Weber's classical structures in the direction of
The situation before the arrival of the Henle texts was worse. For
further discussion and examples, see:
_________ Tony Pay
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