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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000116.txt from 2010/12

From: Sean Osborn <>
Subj: [kl] The Stadler quintet nbeeds some rethinking
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 12:34:01 -0500


Actually, she's not playing a basset clarinet, at least in the link
you sent. It's a clarinet. It appears to me to be a regular A
clarinet, Albert System, with a low E vent key on the
bell. Additionally, she does do at least one ornament that I heard
in the first variation of the last movement.

Like you, I wish she would ornament more. It's not just optional,
but required in a piece like that. You can hear some of my ideas on
my recording. I also play a clarinet, not a basset clarinet on the
recording, but I try to alter some of the notes that have grown up
traditionally trying to compensate for the missing notes. Some of
these fixes I find to be not as good as other posibilites, and I find
it particularly awful in the Concerto. One quintet change I make is
in the fourth movement, 16th note variation, I put the second, third,
and fourth notes of the clarinet part back into the register they
were for the Basset Clarinet (in other words, down an octave from the
published edition). I think it makes the ranger more interesting. I
got these ideas from the great Stanley Hasty.

Happy listening and performing,


>This link will take you to a charming performance of the Mozart
>clarinet quintet, with the splendid Sabine Meyer on a basset
>clarinet (and with a great string quartet, too). But strangely -- I
>listened to all four movements and you can, too -- she plays no basset notes.
>On one hand this is commendable because what she is saying is that
>she has not been convinced by any suggested alterations to the text
>so as to accommodate basset notes. Unlike, K. 622, the fact is that
>there has been only limited investigation of the text of K. 581 to
>propose the use of basset notes.
>On the other hand, why then does she use a basset clarinet in
>A? Since the low notes (and if she played them I missed them) were
>not used, why not use a traditional clarinet in A? It may be that
>the greater length of her basset horn enables a timbre that she
>prefers even when not using that extra length to get basset
>notes. I always found that my B-flat and A clarinets (both of which
>had the low E-flat) produced a sound character that I found more
>interesting than my other clarinets that did not have the extension,
>so I can understand if that is her view.
>The only suggestion that I would offer her -- as if she needs it --
>is that she appears almost never to depart from the traditional
>text; i.e., she does not improvise, which means that she does not
>participate in the creative process, as an improvising performer
>would do. For example, in the minuet (which has four presentations
>of the main theme -- first time with repeats = 2 presentations, plus
>2 da capos for another 2 times) the main theme is heard he same way
>every time. (And it can be argued that even in the da capos the main
>subject should be repeated, which means four additional
>presentations of the main subject for a total of 8 times. Did I
>count that correctly?) And in the slow movement -- which is an A-B-A
>form -- the final presentation of the A theme is unchanged.
>While she is an exciting player, to be sure, she could really do
>that piece up flaming red if her presentation of the text were not
>so literal every time.
>Dan Leeson

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