Author: John J. Moses
Date: 2005-06-24 03:06
"John, I'm interested in what Copland said to you about how you played the Concerto, and how he encouraged you to play in a more 'jazzy style', whatever that means."
You've written extensively on the Copland Concerto, and it sounds like you've pretty much made up your mind about the "swing" factor when you perform the Concerto yourself. So, all I can say is that I play the Concerto with a "swing feel" in various sections of the piece. My feelings about how much I swing or where it happens depends on my mood, at the time, or the group I'm playing for or with. I'm sure you're not serious about "jazzy style, whatever that means." I'm sure you know a lot about jazz, and you know what many of us do when we're asked to "jazz up" a passage in a jingle, or a show tune, or a contemporary classical piece. The Copland Concerto has always felt jazzy to me, and that's why I "swung" some sections of the piece for Copland when we worked together on the film project. He liked the little bit of swing I tried, and it seemed to work for the film. After he watched the spot, and listened to the playback, he liked my style, and suggested I do more.
I've played the Concerto quite a few times, and I change my "jazz feel" from time to time. I think the piece has grown since it was written, and passed through many fine clarinetist's hands. Copland was charming, and liked creativity and change from musicians. He enjoyed the "jazzy style" I brought to our time together working on the Concerto. I think Aaron Copland understood "jazzy style" better than any of us mere mortals.
(I should say to start with that I'm not a subscriber to the idea that the composer *always* knows how his piece works best. I've even sometimes said that I don't particularly want to consult a composer like Berio about small things, because *he might tell me what to do*! And if you think that's crazy, I have several anecdotes that might sway you in the other direction.)
I worked closely with Luciano Berio for many years. I was his clarinetist in the first Berio Ensemble, which toured the US and Europe. We played Luciano's music along with many other talented contemporary composers.
When we performed Berio's music, and played pieces like "Folk Songs" with Cathy Berberian, or many of the "Sequenza"s, we discussed them at great length, and got a lot of input from the man himself. It was invaluable to us, and made our performances more vital and musical. I miss the great and talented Luciano Berio, he was a wonderful musical spirit, and an inspiration to many of us who worked so closely with him for so long.
PS Not only was Berio a great composer, but also a very generous human being. With no place to live, as a young contemporary clarinetist, Luciano let me live in his house in Weehawken, NJ for over a year!
Clark W. Fobes Artist
Post Edited (2005-06-24 03:48)