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 Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: Bigno16 
Date:   2004-06-05 23:17

Hello, everyone.

Lucky me, I've just learned that my Senior Districts audition piece this year is Robert Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73." (The specific edition I have is for Bb Clarinet, revised by Issay Barmas and published by C.F. Peters.) I must say, looking at this piece I cannot say it looks nearly as challenging as last year's audition piece (Mozart Concerto). However, the parts in B Major will probably take a little time to adjust to, mostly in the third movement with some nasty transitions.

Anyway, I do see that this pieces has a lot of areas for being musical and really showing musicianship. I have only listened to one recording of it, by Jonathan Cohler, and do enjoy the way he performs it (If you haven't heard it--> www.jonathancohler.com). But I make this post in hopes that anyone can give some musical insight and notes and any advice on interpretation and how one would play this piece. I searched on the board but only found discussions about the origins of the piece and techinical matters. I seek the thoughts of Ken Shaw, especially, as I was just amazed by his breakdown of the Weber Concertino. Thank you!

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: Alexis 
Date:   2004-06-06 00:31


The Fantasy Pieces are a very big blow, especially with repeats. Try to play through all three and see how you go embouchure-wise. If your embouchure goes while you are playing these (especially the last piece) it is very difficult to find a place to reset it (let alone a place to breathe!). Many people I have spoken to consider the Schumann one of the most difficult pieces to pull off for this very reason.

In terms of interpretation, I think you should see it as a form of instrumental lieder. Listen to recordings of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Schumann (or Schubert) lieder and try to hear what he does with the melodic line. Sing the melodies yourself - even if all the notes aren't all there when you sing, just think about the line and where it is going.

Adhere to the printed dynamics and don't overblow the forte passages. I would say you would want to save your loudest playing for the end of the coda in the last piece. Try and vary the tone colours (Fischer-Dieskau is terrific at doing this) especially in the softer dynamics. You have to transcend the technical difficulties of the clarinet and just play music if that makes sense.

Try and find the A clarinet version - the fingerwork is much easier. The Bb transcription simplifies one triplet figure in the 2nd movement and makes everything else a lot harder. You have enough to worry about without 5 sharps!

I haven't structured this post very well but I hope it helps. Good luck with the audition.

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: Clarinetist 
Date:   2004-06-06 11:37

I have to agree with Alexis that the hardest part among how to express yourself well is to have a good embouchure. When I played this piece, My biggest problem was how to make your air last for the whole piece. Especially in the third movement.

Good luck!

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: kdennyclarinet 
Date:   2004-06-07 00:42

My advice is to find out exactly which edition you are supposed to play for the audition. Ideally, you would want an A clarinet and you would want to play the edition written for the A clarinet. You might ask if you are required to play the piece with or without piano. If not, find out if you can play the version for A clarinet on a Bb clarinet. Schumann did not mean for you to play in B major... that's why he wrote it for the A clarinet (and the A produces a darker more mellow sound which I believe he wanted for the piece). Playing in 5 sharps on a Bb clarinet generally makes a person sound quite bright not to mention that the technical work may hinder the flow of the musical lines. So, I recommend finding out more information before learning the Bb version only to be disappointed later.

Best of luck to you! Let us know what you find out!

K. Denny


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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: theclarinetist 
Date:   2004-06-07 05:43

I think Fantasy Pieces is also available in a string (cello I think) version. Considering the writing and endurance issues, was this piece originally written for string or clarinet? Just curious.


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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: Clarinetist 
Date:   2004-06-07 08:24

theclarinetist, It was originally written for clarinet, but I have heard that Mr. Schumann intented it to be played also with cello (transcribed also for viola). If you do a "search" you notice that it has been discussed here before.

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's
Author: GBK 
Date:   2004-06-07 11:06

The cello version (as well as the violin and viola transpositions) of the Fantasy Pieces were the original publisher's idea to increase sales ...GBK

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: Clarinetist 
Date:   2004-06-07 17:57

Thanks, for the correction GBK!

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: D Dow 
Date:   2004-06-07 19:12

I have done them with the A and Bb clarinets...I prefer no. 3 on a but NO. 1 DEFINTELY ON Bb...however, It is a personal thing.

David Dow

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: Bigno16 
Date:   2004-06-09 00:16

Thank you all. But I have to audition on Bb Clarinet. For Districts, we all audition on Bb Clarinet and then I believe if you make it in, it goes something like 1st best clarinet/1st chair orchestra...2nd best clarinet/1st chair concert band...and back and forth until orchestra is filled and so on. But nevertheless, I need to audition on Bb Clarinet.

I was hoping you all would give me some advice, such as phrasing, added dynamics, feeling, and performance advice such as those, plus how to combat the dreaded high clarion G# to C# switch which must be done on the left because of the D# after it, unless one has a right-hand Eb key, which I don't (Bb edition - 3rd movement).

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 Re: Performance Advice on Schumann's "Fantasy Pieces, Op. 73"
Author: Alexis 
Date:   2004-06-09 06:22

I think the best way to deal with the G# to C# bit is just to support (i.e keep blowing) the whole way through and try and make the change as quickly as possible. If there are any magic tricks for that I'd like to hear them. I know there is a fake G# fingering which is written in the David Hite Foundation Studies, but I can't remember it now and it may not work in context.

I think in terms of dynamics you just need to bring out the contrasts. Pretty much all the performance information you need in terms of expression is written in the part. Know where you are going with your phrases. I mentioned before that singing the melody is very useful. Maybe photocopy your part and put a big pink highlighter mark where you want the phrase to go to. Then when you play through, you aim for the pink blobs....

It's not that easy to do this over the net...if you can play for someone (e.g a teacher or even another student) and get their feedback it may be more useful.

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