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 Marcellus's Mozart
Author: theclarinetist 
Date:   2003-12-31 04:56

I just got a recording of the Marcellus Mozart. I had heard this piece was "the definitive American" rendition, so I was intrigued.

I listened to the whole piece once all the way through, then listened to a couple more spots again. I think the playing is great, and I love his sound, but I'm not sure why this performance would be considered definitive, or even what characteristics are "definitive" of Mozart. I guess I'm asking, what is the abstract ideal which Marcellus's playing so closely resembles?

I have 5 recordings of this piece; Stoltzman, de Peyer, Pay (on basset horn), Marcellus, and some unnamed person on a "Mad About Mozart" type Cd. Of all these pieces, I think I like Marcellus's sound best, but I think his interpretation is somewhat bland (whether this is good or not, I suppose, depends on the abstract ideal). I personally probably prefer the Pay version most, but that's fine.

I'm not trying to discredit Marcellus's playing, as it is incredible. I'm just curious why everyone (or most clarinetists I've talked to anyway) would hold this particular performance up as the standard. I often subscribe to the "if everyone agrees, everyone is probably wrong" philosophy, so I think it's very important to question these things and not just accept it as the best because that;s what your teacher told you and his/her teacher told him/her, etc...

When approaching this issue, what are the standards applied when judging "definitive-ness" of the performance? What kind of phrasing is best, how much dynamics should one use, etc? I realize many say that "music is subjective and it's impossible to say which is the "best" (which I would agree with - assuming all the performances are well done, of course), but when so many agree that his playing on this piece is best or definitive, there surely must be some objective standards that everyone holds. What are they for this piece?


Donald Hite

Just to avoid being branded a clarinet heretic, I'm not saying that I think Marcellus's performance isn't definitive because someone else's is MORE definitive. I'm simply curious as to what it means for a piece to be definitive or whether this is even possible (beyond the composer, who can actually say what is definitive of a piece anyway??)

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: sfalexi 
Date:   2003-12-31 05:09

I heard it and didn't like it that much. His technique is phenominal. And in the last movement he takes such a quick tempo that to me it almost sounds like the strings are having to work hard to keep up to his tempo! Superb technique, but I too didn't hear as much phrasing or didn't get any feeling from his playing. He played the dynamics, but it didn't sound very personal to me.

I'm thinking that maybe because of his quick tempo he wasn't able to embelish or put as much feeling into each phrase. I know when I had to play it for juries, I tried to do slight crescendos and tried to lead to the high point of a phrase and then slighlty decrease in volume and intensity till the beginning of a new phrase. But I was taking it much MUCH slower than he did.

But wow is he a master of the instrument. I never thought someone could tongue that fast or play that piece so quickly and flawlessy. I'm sure he was an excellent clarinet player overall, and I definitely would like to hear more of him, but I don't find this particular recording to be "all that and a bag of chips" either.


Small Group Leader
US Army School of Music NCO Academy

Post Edited (2003-12-31 05:12)

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: theclarinetist 
Date:   2003-12-31 05:19

I agree. When I've worked on this piece with my teacher, we go to tedious lengths talking about phrases and examining every single interval and what to do with every single note (or so it seems). Then he recommends this recording, which while technically good (though his notes and rhythms are no more correct than de Peyer or Pay's) and with a great sound, he seems to just gloss over all the phrases without much of the expression (which, from what I understand, is the exact opposite example I was supposed to get by listening to this recording).

Perhaps it's a "less is more" type of thing, but considering that my teacher kept wanting more, I don't see this to be the case...


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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Someone who knows 
Date:   2003-12-31 13:32

If you are only listening to the clarinet playing on this recording, you've already missed the whole point.

The piece is a work for clarinet and orchestra, playing equal roles.

One of the many things that distinguish this recording as memorable ( a 'definitive' recording of a work where no manuscript exists?) is the way Szell and Marcellus worked together to integrate the ensemble and solo parts.

This recording being 40 years old now, one could hardly expect it to reflect today's ideas about Mozart performance. The fact that it is referred to at all should tell you something. The fact that many truly great musicians still respect this recording should tell you something more.

In short, perhaps it is not the recording that is lacking something. I can remember 'not getting' many recordings when I was young, only to return to them as a more mature musician and realize how great they are.

The recording is what it is. A snapshot of what a group of fine musicians did on one day of their lives.

My ideas about what this concerto is differ from what my teacher did on this recording. But that doesn't change how great I think this recording is. It faithfully represents how the performers wanted the piece to go, and that's very hard to reproduce on any recording.

It is very easy to try too hard in Mozart, to apply makeup to the Mona Lisa as it were. This recording is what I would call extremely reverent in this regard. But compared to the smear-it-on-with-a-trowel approach sometimes observed today, I'll take this.

And I can tell you that while Mr. Marcellus was proud of this effort, he was not satisfied with it. He could barely even listen to it.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Ed 
Date:   2003-12-31 13:59

I have always felt that yes, there is great beauty and control in the clarinet playing, glorious legato and wonderful ensemble playing. I have always enjoyed the fact that some of the beauty that I hear in this recording is in the is subtlety. He lets the music speak for itself. It is not about Marcellus, Szell or Cleveland, it is about Mozart. (and yes, it reflects what the thoughts were at that time about Mozart performance.)

It is like having a fine piece of fresh fish prepared where it is simply sauteed. The flavor is allowed to shine through and is not covered with heavy sauces or over-preparation. I hope you can allow this to grow on you and see the beauty that is there.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: GBK 
Date:   2003-12-31 16:45

"Playing between the notes". When you learn what that phrase means, perhaps you will then understand Marcellus.

Marcellus, better than anyone since, took Bonade's principles of playing to an even higher level of artistry.

There are countless great orchestral clarinetists.

There are countless great soloists.

However, the number that could do both is extremely small.

Put Marcellus' name at the top of the list...GBK

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: theclarinetist 
Date:   2003-12-31 17:16

what does playing between the notes mean?

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: thechosenone 
Date:   2003-12-31 17:25

It means connecting all the notes, with impeccable legato. 99% of the legato is jaw-breaking, it's very perfect and ideal. This is itself makes the recording so definitive. I fully agree with GBK about Marcellus taking Bonade's playing principles to the highest level. The tonguing in the beginning of the 3rd movement is very difficult to get just the right sound and length, and Marcellus does it wonderfully.

Legato is the most difficult thing on the clarinet. Perhaps the most difficult legato in the first movement lies in the prolonged 16th note passages with arpeggios (starting with G,D,B,D...) I guarantee you that most people cannot play that without popping the notes. Marcellus here is at his best, making every note sound connected.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Mikey 
Date:   2003-12-31 18:35

When it comes to Mozart, more is less! Marcellus's purity of sound and playing and is well matched for Mozart's subtleties. Marcellus does a wonderful job of not overstating the phrases and, as a result, captures the elegant charm and superb wit of this work. This is why he was the best :D

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2003-12-31 19:51

I have always admired this particularly fine performance for a number of reasons, and the part of this recordI like is that it is unfussy and played in an unmannered way.

As for sublety and nuance this is fine, but I have long admired the glory of Marcellus' control and the excellent definitition to his sound. There are alot of passages which now would be articulated or done in a different way, but this never detracts from the great artistry of this version..

the coupling I haVE IS with the Sinfonia Concertante which is superb as well..

As to things which I detract from in his styling is the fault of maTTER of trills and ornamentation, which is pretty standard for the day, but now clarinetists tend to do things quite differently...remember too he is probably working from the lousy Beitkopt version which is a totally bum edition....

David Dow

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: donald 
Date:   2003-12-31 20:56

i first heard this recording in 1994 when i was studying with Dr Dave Etheridge. After listening to it a few times i commented to Randy Paul that i thought it was.... boring, over-rated, nice but unimaginative... he just smiled and said something quite unjudgemental like "hmmmm, maybe your right"
WELL, now i've actually learnt to play the clarinet properly, and (more importantly) learnt to LISTEN better, i play this recording and find myself amazed by the incredible musicality evident in this performance. I "ate those words" long ago. Everything else i could say about this recording has already been said above.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: GBK 
Date:   2003-12-31 21:18

I also studied with Dave Etheridge (before Donald did) and we often discussed the ease and beauty of playing in Marcellus' Mozart.

It is rare when two great minds deeply seated in Classical tradition (Szell and Marcellus) meet and join together to create a special performance. Both personalities meshed to make an account which thankfully was captured for eternity, albeit on one day in October of 1961. Remember, Szell could have chosen anyone for his definitive statement on the Mozart Concerto. He chose Marcellus.

You owe it to yourself to discover Marcellus' other work. Listen to his playing in the Mendelssohn Symphonies #3 and #4, Midsummernight's Dream, the Schubert Octet and Rosemunde, the Brahms Symphonies (especially #3), Beethoven #6 and #8 and First Piano Concerto, Waldweben, etc..etc..etc..

No other clarinetist since Bonade has left such an important mark in both solo and orchestral playing...GBK

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Synonymous Botch 
Date:   2003-12-31 21:33

As an aspiring hack player, I can say without guile (for a change) that the Marcellus recording brings tears to my eyes...Buddy Wright, John Manassee and Ricardo Morales have achieved the same lucidity of emotional control in their playing.

Something about the way they leave room for the audience; and make the technically awesome passages seem effortless...

The CBS masterworks recording is the one I own of Marcellus, and it is sounding a little dated.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Gregory Smith 2017
Date:   2003-12-31 23:54

"There are countless great orchestral clarinetists.
There are countless great soloists.
However, the number that could do both is extremely small.
Put Marcellus' name at the top of the list...GBK-----

Not to mention chamber musician, conductor, teacher, and along with it a towering intellect about music whether it be classical or jazz. The breadth and depth of knowledge that this great musician posessed was observed by some of the greatest musicians of the 20th century no less. Just read the memorial tributes from no less than a Pierre Boulez or a John Browning for instance.

He was one of perhaps a handfull of people that I've met where I've sensed - no, knew - that I was in the prescence of greatness or genius...and not in the simply charismatic sense, although he did exude that too. My appreciation for this great musician only grew over the 20 years that I knew him as teacher and then as friend and colleague.

To play a Schubert Octet or Mozart Serenade or Varese Octandre or perhaps the Schubert Unfinished Symphony or Hindemith Symphonic Metamorphosis or Ravel Daphnis under his direction was truly awe inspiring...not just to me, but to many of the top musicians that played with OR for him.

What an increasing number of observers don't realize is the relative shortness of his playing career (20 years) and that the Mozart concerto was recorded when he was an incredibly young but mature 33 yrs. old, quite a feat all things considered. Many haven't heard the live performance on tape of his Mozart that was done 12 years later. His approach was almost exactly the same but with the maturity of a 45 yr. old. He knew exactly what he wanted and even outdid his recording as far as mastery of the music and of the crarft in that live performance. Perhaps it was even more exciting because of the fact that it was a live performance.

His interpretation of the Mozart Concerto was the embodiment of that famous quote by his music director (and fine chef), George Szell who, in response to those very few critics that wanted more "emotion" in Szell's interpretations of music from the classical period exclaimed, "You don't expect me to pour chocolate sauce over asparagus do you?"

I hear nothing dated in the interpretation of his rendition of the concerto compared to others except perhaps the exclusion of improvisation - which was not being practiced in the days of either performance except in the realm of a new emerging "scholarly" movement just in it's infancy.

In the live performances I have on tape from 1961 and 1973 he played a little with the orchestra tuttis in the introduction to get his reed wet and then played with the orchestra all the way to the last note of the entire work to punctuate the final statement and send the audience off with no less than bravos and cheers. They simply loved him. He was their crowning jewel amongst a musician's orchestra...and a clarinetistt's clarinetistt amongst several generations of his peers.

Gregory Smith

Post Edited (2004-01-03 01:27)

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Synonymous Botch 
Date:   2004-01-01 11:11


Everybody knows that you eat asparagoose with Devonshire Cream.

Right on the money, there... no ornamentation, just the purest line.

Wish I could have heard him, in person.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: LeOpus1190s 
Date:   2004-01-01 22:41

as wiseman case is much smaller. I bought one so I could travel with out a problem.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: CPW 
Date:   2004-01-01 23:19

Author: LeOpus1190s stated:
"as wiseman case is much smaller. I bought one so I could travel with out a problem."

Mr Marcellus must have been a small person to fit in Any case.
(prob'ly, refers to thread on bass clar on airplanes)

Too much NewYear cheer Opus???

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: graham 
Date:   2004-01-02 08:10

Many of these points fit with my own feelings about the recording. I bought the LP of this, second hand, to get Wright's account of the Mozart Quintet, which I think is a great conception. Marcellus' Concerto was on the other side. I played it and thought it was a bore. It was as though the player knew what expression to put in, but lacked the guts really to go for it. Wright's Quintet seemed in a different league.

I returned to the Marcellus later and heard the various qualities mentioned above. All these are readily apparent to a clarinettist. Marcellus is a clarinettist's clarinettist.

I think if I listened to it more still, it might grow on me further. But similar comments can be made about the McCaw, which many hold to be very fine, but I find low key.

Another way of looking at this is that Marcellus/McCaw bring an inwardness to the music which is the antithesis of showmanship, much as, say, Brendel and Pollini do for the piano. But on that level I feel that the Prinz account is utterly special. Prinz, of all the accounts I know, gets to the very heart of the message. I do not listen out for perfect legatos and emaculate control. I do not care. The music is all that counts and that comes through loud and clear on the Prinz account.

There are several other accounts I like: Klocker, Lawson, (I have not heard the Pay, the reviews of which are very good), and Brymer had a way with it.

As far as "definitive" is concerned; as Brymer said, there will never be a definitive performance.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2004-01-02 12:07

Harold Wright recorded version of the Mozart Quintet shortly after Marcellus and spoke highly of the CBS version he did.

After my 2cd year of study with Mr. Wright I then worked on the Mozart Quintet and can honestly say his knowledge of phrasing and shade and colours was simply amazing. I eventually performed the Mozart Quintet with a student string group and can say I was inspired at the amount I learned from him.

The Ozawa Wright version of the Concerto on DG is excellent as well.

David Dow

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2004-01-02 12:09

Errarata: should read....

Harold Wright's version of the Quintet was recorded around the time Marcellus did his version of the Concerto....

David Dow

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Brian Peterson 
Date:   2004-01-02 20:24

Said recording is being played right now, 3:20 CST on WRR 101 in Dallas.


Happy listening.

Brian Peterson

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: RM 
Date:   2004-01-02 21:57

I would like to add my vote for the Marcellus Mozart, very nice playing indeed. Such great fundamentals and line to his playing. On the flip side, it is an older recording, and it does seem very "reserved" when comparing to todays interpretive standards. I think of it as a wonderful treasure of clarinet playing from years past. People will never sound that way again; materials for clarinets, mouthpieces and the design of clarinets, mouthpieces and reeds have changed so much since then. I dont think we will have anyone in the near future that will come close to Mr. Marcellus's achievements with the instrument. We can just use it as a reminder of this great playing and press on in new directions with the clarinet.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: GBK 
Date:   2004-01-02 22:35

RM wrote:

> People will never sound that way
> again; materials for clarinets, mouthpieces and the design of
> clarinets, mouthpieces and reeds have changed so much since
> then. I dont think we will have anyone in the near future
> that will come close to Mr. Marcellus's achievements with the
> instrument.

The chance of someone ever again recording the Mozart Concerto using Buffet/Moennig R13 A clarinet # 45451 (1958) with a Kaspar (Chicago) mouthpiece and Morre German cut 2.5 strength reeds with a 12.6 tip is nil...GBK (Marcellus set-up info as posted by Greg Smith)

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Gregory Smith 2017
Date:   2004-01-02 22:56

"I played it and thought it was a bore. It was as though the player knew what expression to put in, but lacked the guts really to go for it."

Actually there *was* a choice made. The choice was made *not* to put a certain type of expression into it, although Marcellus was perfectly capable of doing just that. Perhaps that is what is missed sometimes when this discussion inevitably comes up... what one *expects* the expression of a piece of music to be like in the first place. It's a question of style and context.

For instance, I would say that the versions that I've heard having *more guts* in them (depending on what *type* of guts one's talking about), are often a bore because they are over or inappropriately phrased. They draw one's attention away from the music, putting more onto the performer...which is what I think Szell's comment was meant to address, although indirectly.

In the business, a much used comment is bantered about amongst professionals describing this phenomenon. I heard Boulez use it just the other day in rehearsal. It went, "That's like pouring honey on sugar." If there is something already in the music, emphasizing it in a certain way sounds out of place *in context* with every other style of music. In the arts, whether it be literature, drama, etc, context and proportion are everything. There was a long discussion about this very thing not too long ago here on this bboard concerning the Debussy Rhapsodie and it's interpretation.

Harold Wright's interpretation of the Quintet with his string colleagues seems a good example of performers playing in a style which highlights the music and not as much the performers. The music seems not so much about his or their personality but about the inherent drama, lyricism, etc. already contained in *that style* of music.

Of course there is no one "correct" interpretation within a style, but many musicians (and non-musicians) seem to think that Marcellus's and Wright's interpretations speak to them as a thing of beauty to marvel at, falling well within the boundries of the classical style, at least as we have come to know it.

Then again, some may indeed like chocolate on their asparagus and honey on their sugar.

Although loosely related, this discussion reminds me of another another cut-to-the-bone quote from Szell. When criticized by a very few that his interpretations sounded *too perfect*, he responded thoughtfully:

"It is perfectly legitimate to prefer the hectic, the aryhthmic, the untidy - but to my mind, great artistry is not disorderliness."

I believe that there is a little of that philosophy exuded in the interpretation of Mozart by Marcellus.

Gregory Smith

Post Edited (2004-01-03 01:37)

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Vytas 
Date:   2004-01-03 01:52

>>>>>...using Buffet/Moennig R13 A clarinet # 45451 (1958)...<<<<<

I've seen the same info posted by Gregory Smith but there is something wrong with this picture:

If the serial number is correct than the clarinet is Pre-R13 made in 1953

If the year '1958' and is correct than the serial number is questionable.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Gregory Smith 2017
Date:   2004-01-03 03:20

The serial number is correct. The date (1957 -1958 season) is when Marcellus started using the A clarinet full time in the Orchestra. An A clarinet with that serial number is certainly from 1953 according to Buffet's own register.

R-13's were manufactured as a *line production* instrument available to the general public starting sometime in 1955. During a couple of years leading up to that there was much experimentation, testing, and evaluation before a model was brought to market by top French players that were testers for Buffet France (much as it is done today).

In my extensive conversations with Marcellus about his legendary A clarinet (the finest clarinet I've ever played), he explained to me that in one of his annual visits to Moennig of Philadelphia while he was in the Cleveland Orchestra, Moening pulled out a beautiful playing A clarinet that he had been storing that was one amongst several that Moennig had received from Buffet that were of a then new type of *polycylindrical* bore. Some of these prototypes were sent to him and Moening naturally wanted his top players to be the be the ones to evaluate them.

Marcellus said that the improvement in the basic blowing and sound characteristics of that particular instrument were so astonishing that he bought it immediately.

So, there was a significant lag time between manufacture, arrival, storage and adjustment by Moening, purchase, then additional extensive adjustments for Marcellus (which Moening was legendary for especially when it came to the R-13) before Marcellus started to slowly break it in to eventually play it full time in the Cleveland Orchestra.

It was the only A clarinet he owned from that point on and played until the end of his life. It was constantly adjusted to Marcellus's wishes on a continuing and ongoing basis throughout the rest of the years that he played in the orchestra. It was so customised for his own hands - key heights, springs, placement, tone hole modification, barrels made from scratch on Moening's belt-driven lathe,etc. Moening was old-world artist and craftsman in the finest sense collaborating with a master of their instrument. And since it was a collaborative endeavor accross many miles, it took time to evolve. Things simply moved slower back then.

Gregory Smith

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2004-01-03 05:11


Who'd he leave his instruments to anyway? In other words where is this "magic" clarinet?  ;)


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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: graham 
Date:   2004-01-05 09:00

GS makes good points but the question I ask is why the Wright account of the Quintet immediately made me think: this is great, and the Marcellus Concerto made me think: this is dull? As you point out, Wright's account is subtle. No chocolate sauce on asparagus there! And on the whole I do like inner strength type players.

What distinguishes this subtlety of expression from an account that lacks sufficient energy, and seems routine or just to be going through the motions? Whilst I would not be so harsh on Marcellus as to say he was an absolute case of the latter, I have strong doubts that his playing (on that record) is going to match my view of Wright's playing.

It is a difficult question to answer, but here is a stab. With Marcellus I felt the phrasing was a little obvious. I could hear what he was trying to do, but that obviousness made it all the clearer that he was pulling his punches. If you listen to Prinz in the Concerto (or, say, Lawson) the phrasing seems less obvious, but the result seems more enlightening. Just as it is the case in the Wright recording of the Quintet.

The other thing is the question of architecture or structure. It often takes several hearings of a recording to determine whether the overall conception of the performance is sufficiently structural to stand the test of time (i.e. several listenings). It may well be that this is where Marcellus scores over many more "obvious" sounding accounts. I would have to listen to it much more to tell if that were so. I might do that, and I might see the light. Meanwhile, the original poster seems to me to have a point when he feels that it is not a scintillating account.

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2004-01-05 11:22

I tend to find the whole discourse on equipment to be somewhat tedious, and by this we are talking about two giant clarinetists(who sound great on just about anything)

and coming back to a salient point would be emphasize that some players can easily sound or emulate a given player but still have no artistic soul or capability in playing a piece convincingly.

Much of what I hear is equipment talk,

for example Wright owned Ralph MacLane's A which I played several times and found to be a beautiful sounding instrument. Yet, I had the feeling it was also a fine instrument because it was simply taken care of and tuned by Moenning. Wright tended to use this instrument more in chamber music, rather than orchestra.

I have the sensibility as a former student of Wright's to realize that Harold Wright would have sounded great on plastic clarinets if he had the real key is that artistry must come down to individuality and not

As to interpretation, I feel key aspect of the Marcellus K622 recording's main problem is microphone placement, and we still must be thankful that the people at CBS recorded it at least,

but I tend to find the sound not the most pleasing for a classical recording. I find it is the dessicated sound which annoys most in the Szell/Marcellus cycle of CBS records...this is pronounced in the era of 61 to 62. I am sure it is close microphone sound which robs the resonance from this disc. This is another factor in evaluating any audio recording robs the artist of their harmonic series...

Harold Wright with Ozawa is a splendid recording (sonically) on Deutche is also a fine example of Wright's individuality. As to tempi and style it may not suit all tastes either!

we could only have one wish and that is if Marcellus was able to record on DG things would be better ...

David Dow

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2004-01-08 03:05

I really find this discussion to be fascinating for a number of reasons...I think the underlying greatness of Marcellus' playing is something that is really hard define in words. Having just listened to the recording of K622 I will state what I feel are strong elements in Marcellus' fine record:

<There is a strong opening of movement one with the statement of the themes done superbly by Szell. Once Marcellus states the g e we really know we are listening to a partnership of equals and this adds to the dimension of the stature of this performance. Not since Wlach in 47 with Herbert K. has anyone played the opening with such a beautiful matching and meshing of the phrases...natural and flowing rather than clipped or exageratted like other players>

Another fine aspect of this recording is the retention of tempi through all of the movements...I especially like the development section of the first movement and the wondrous horn and bassoon sonorties which match the solo Clarinet Marcellus really understood the concept of dovetailing phrases naturally. In the slow music the flute players are dead on in terms of phrases as well...for example listen closely to how well they match the colour of the clarinet...>

As to the finale we really have a superbly defined clarion register. I always wonder whether Marcellus used the 11 or 13 Kaspar here, because in this particular register I never liked the 11 facing which I own....however, that is beside the point....another element is the fine ritenuto at the restated them in the Recapitulation. This is a style thing many miss and of course it is pretty subtle...some players just bash there way when this dash of rubato is played so wonderfully. Marcellus was really a special player, and I think this interpretation says much about Szell and his special handling of an artist and a fine group.

David Glazer once referred to Szell (in a lesson once with him I was haning) having a sense beyond this world in the way he could allow a player to phrase with "naturalness".

There are other things which should really be listened closely by students and any one who plays the clarinet in this fine record which I think is really important, and this is the great closing phrases of the slow movement. I sometimes wish I had the Clarinet Quintet K581 of Marcellus, but alas there are none of this to my knowledge...this could really be a revelation in places....

A little outside the box of this topic, but I will add a conductor who is great and inspired really is something that a player lives for! Szell was a true giant and I think he really honed the Cleveland winds in a way that was in those days a truly cultivated sound. Please listen to the Beethoven 2 slow movement and again Marcellus has a plasticity and sweetness that I admire. Around the same time Bernstein and Drucker did a spledid job as well, but interpretively inspired!!!

So, maybe this may not be the Mozart for some, but I truly love this Marcellus version, and I am glad to have it. I can also make a list of reason why I like the Wright Ozawa version too, but this differs in style on many points and this is a good thing. Great players bring also great individuality....wonder if Ralph MacLane has a recording of this....would be something to hear.

David Dow

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: morbius 
Date:   2013-11-15 21:52

I agree. I heard "play between the notes" many times. I also had to learn Cleveland's phrasing system. At first, I found a "system" to be restricting on expression. But, as I grew as a musician, I found it liberating. Another one of Marcellus's favorite sayings: "you must illuminate the phrase"

John Dorch

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: TAS 
Date:   2013-11-16 00:56

Marcellus is a master clarinetist. So was Benny Goodman. Each in their own fashion.

Let's not quibble and parse. Instead. let us honor the master's of their domain and strive to improve school band and orchestra programs that germinate master talent, which in many instances are being watered down in quality and taught in ever increasing numbers by pseudo-musicians who cannot play a phrase well, let alone conduct and administer a musically successful organization.


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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2013-11-16 04:09

I once had a recording of Benny Goodman performing Mozart's concerto on vinyl before I sold off these and went over to CDs. Interesting, but nothing to write home to mother about.

Reply To Message
 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: GBK 
Date:   2013-11-16 04:22

Barry Vincent wrote:

> I once had a recording of Benny Goodman performing Mozart's
> concerto on vinyl before I sold off these and went over to CDs.
> Interesting, but nothing to write home to mother about.

It's still available:


Reply To Message
 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Barry Vincent 
Date:   2013-11-16 05:00

Thanks GBK. I remember it being a nice 'neat' performance.


Post Edited (2013-11-16 05:05)

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 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: clarinetguy 2017
Date:   2013-11-16 06:22

It's interesting to see this old discussion revived.

Back in the 60s, there just weren't many reed choices available to the average clarinet player. In the days before the Internet, you were at the mercy of what your local music store could provide. Perhaps there were some mail order businesses that provided more options, but it wasn't like it is today where you go online, see endless reed possibilities, and have them shipped to your home in a few days.

Vandoren's (only one style) and Mitchell Luries were the basic choices for serious players, and Vandoren's weren't always available. Olivieris were around (and quite good at the time), but in some parts of the U.S. they were almost unknown. Of course, one could always get Rico and La Voz. Reeds with thicker blanks (V-12s, Rico Reserve, etc.) that are so popular today, for the most part didn't exist.

There was Morre, a reed that had quite a mystique about it (perhaps like Coors Beer in the 70s, when you couldn't get it in the Eastern U.S.). As a high school student at music camp in the early 70s, everyone talked about Morre, but nobody used them. They were very hard for the average person to obtain, and as I recall, were only available from Marks Music in Farrell, PA. I recall sending them a letter, but it was never answered.

Most players in the 60s and early 70s struggled to get a nice "dark" sound.
Teachers would commonly say, "It's too shrill," or "It's too bright." Frustrated students would do everything they could to get rid of the "brightness," but many (I was one of them) never quite succeeded.
Even the famous professionals played with a "brighter" sound than one usually hears today. I'm convinced that the reeds were a major factor. The "smile" embouchure, not too common anymore but widely taught back then, was another factor.

A friend introduced me to the Marcellus recording in the early 70s. It blew me away (and probably countless others too) because of that famed sound. Here was that great "dark" tone quality that everyone seemed to be striving for, but couldn't quite get. I didn't know it at the time, but later learned that Marcellus played on Morre reeds. He was such a fine player that he probably would have sounded good on a basic Rico, but the thick-blank Morres sure didn't hurt. His embouchure, not widely taught, was probably also a factor (Tom Puwalski describes it here):

I haven't listened to my Marcellus recording for many years, but have always liked it. Now, I'm going to have to take it out again!

Post Edited (2013-11-16 06:23)

Reply To Message
 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: TomD 
Date:   2013-11-19 16:28

I'm curious what other's think about David Shifrin's recording of the Mozart back in the '80s. He used the bassett clarinet and I think his performance received a Grammy nomination.

Reply To Message
 Re: Marcellus's Mozart
Author: Wes 
Date:   2013-11-20 05:31

Marcellus' first major teacher was Earl Handlon of the Minneapolis Symphony. Earl Handlon started students on the Klose method and, as soon as possible, got them started on the Mozart Concerto, with the Bb clarinet if they did not have an A clarinet.

If Marcellus was also enrolled in the U of M, taking clarinet as a credit course, he would have been playing movements of the Mozart Concerto for the quarterly exams for the music department faculty. Thus, Handlon was probably a major influence on Marcellus' performance of Mozart.

Handlon also used the "Fifteen Grandes Solos" for solo material for his students after the Mozart Concerto.

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