Klarinet Archive - Posting 000313.txt from 2010/11
From: "Keith Bowen" <keith.bowen@-----.com>
Subj: [kl] Gunther Schuller Duo
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2010 19:12:14 -0500
I recently asked on the list for help in contacting Gunther Schuller, and
via a suggestion from Colin Touchin, I was able to contact him through his
publishers Schirmer and have just spoken to him. He's the only living
composer I know of who called for the bass in A, in the Duo Sonata for
clarinet and bass clarinet. I thought you would all be interested since what
he says has performance implications.
He is charming, interesting and totally on the ball at 85. He absolutely
remembers all about the piece, which he wrote about 60 years ago. He said
that after playing in the Met Opera for 15 years (as a horn player) he was
totally familiar with the A bass, which they had purchased shortly after WW2
for Lohengrin and other Wagner performances. Yes he does agree it is a
different tone quality. In the Duo Sonata, while the first movement is
highly chromatic and Stravinsky-esque, the sense of key returns and the last
movement is strongly in D major (and Poulenc-esque). So it made sense to him
to write for both clarinets in A (he does use low written E for the
soprano), and that would be the ideal way. But of someone doesn't have one,
don't buy an A bass, just transpose it down a semitone on the Bb - but don't
do it on two Bb without transposing as the key relationships between
movements are important, more so than the timbre.
He says that he was amazed at the furore this created, with people accusing
him of 'not knowing it was obsolete'!
A thoroughly agreeable man and a nice conversation. I felt honoured to talk
with him. And the work is well worth the effort.
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