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 pictures
Author: jez 
Date:   2006-03-02 08:50

This is a bit off-topic being a saxophone related question, but I'm sure some of you must double, as I do.
For the first time I'm experiencing Ravel's orchestration of Moussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition as a conductor, having played it many times on both clarinet and saxophone.
Looking at the score, I was amazed to see that the last 2 notes of the sax solo in 'The Old Castle' have a clearly printed glissando! This is never printed in the part and I've never been asked to do it by any conductor or indeed heard it played that way.
Has anyone heard it done or even discussed? It's not an easy gliss to do, but its not impossible and I can't wait for the next time I get a chance to play it. Ravel used glissandi on the saxophone so there's no reason to think it's a mistake.

jez



Post Edited (2006-03-02 08:50)

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 Re: pictures
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-03-02 11:52

I have listened to this sax solo many times over the years and enjoyed it. But I'll have to listen again to refresh my memory.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: Pictures Exhib., Alto Sax Solo
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2006-03-02 12:57

Me too, BobD, not having the part available to me at this time, however I'll ask my band-saxers tonite. Our local symp [and I] has/have played Pics, and may have the parts. Does anyone know what notes [key sig?] are "glissed", I have both a Selmer and Leblanc alto sax for trials. Beautiful when played well. Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: pictures
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-03-02 13:02

I've only seen and heard the last notes (C5 up to F5) written and played without a gliss - but this is definitely an interesting insight.

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 Re: pictures
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2006-03-02 13:43

TKS, Chris I was guessing at [have no P P] B4 to E5, and about ready to look thru my old LP's and check it. Almost like w: clar, across the break ! Will try it on my alto cl also, Heresy ??? Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: pictures
Author: David Spiegelthal 2017
Date:   2006-03-02 14:02

Never heard of it, never heard it, never had to play it with gliss. Are you sure it isn't a misprint in the score?

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 Re: pictures
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2006-03-02 14:13

I know Ravel used the gliss on the sax parts in Bolero, but never in Pictures...

I've never heard Leopold Stokowski's arrangement of 'The Old Castle' (only heard a couple of other movements of his version, though an orchestra here in the UK did both Ravel and Stokowski's versions in the same programme!) - does Stokowski use an alto sax as well?

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 Re: pictures
Author: LarryBocaner 2017
Date:   2006-03-02 14:31

Verrry interesting! I thought you were crazy, jez, until I looked at my copy of the score (Hawkes & Son Ltd. 1929) and discovered that you are absolutely correct. There is a printed gliss. in the sax part in the score, but not in the referenced piano original at the bottom of the page, which has the notes played in octaves! I've never seen the gliss in the printed sax part, nor in the Ronkin/Frascotti exerpt book nor have I ever heard anyone play it that way. Nor have I ever heard a conductor ask the saxist to play a slur there (and I've performed the Moussorgsky/Ravel "Pictures" about a jillion times under almost that many conductors of all nationalities!).

Perhaps if I get the opportunity to play this part again in the future, I'll try the glissando at a rehearsal, just to see what the reaction is!



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 Re: pictures
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2006-03-02 14:32

jez -

I've never heard or heard of a gliss on the last two notes of The Old Castle. Could you post a scan of that page of the conductor's score?

Chris P -

Lucien Calliet, the Philadelphia Orchestra bass clarinetist, made many arrangements for Stokowski, including Pictures. I assume this is the version you're referring to. If so, the solo is given to the English horn.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: pictures
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2006-03-02 14:38

I played Pictures with John Eliot Gardiner last year, and he asked for the gliss. It made the sax player a bit nervous, but he managed it well. The gliss sounded good. Of course, it seemed more appropriate to play a fairly quick gliss than a Gershwin-type smear!

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 Re: pictures
Author: diz 
Date:   2006-03-02 20:10

diz ponders glissing on an instrument with covered tone holes.

Without music, the world would be grey, very grey.

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 Re: pictures
Author: Merlin 
Date:   2006-03-02 20:31

It's a gliss, not a portamento, so fingers aren't a problem.



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 Re: pictures
Author: clarinetmom 
Date:   2006-03-03 01:18

The NYSSMA Symphony Orchestra performed this in December of last year. The conductor was Kenneth Andrews, a professor from SUNY Potsdam. Maybe he can give you some helpful information.



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 Re: pictures
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2006-03-03 05:33

"diz ponders glissing on an instrument with covered tone holes."

"It's a gliss, not a portamento, so fingers aren't a problem."

A saxophonist friend of mine can do a 'Raphsodie In Blue' type gliss (what you call portamento I guess) on saxophone so it is definitely possible.



Post Edited (2006-03-03 18:01)

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 Re: pictures
Author: Merlin 
Date:   2006-03-03 14:44

I didn't say a portamento isn't possible, but it is more difficult to do. A fingered gliss can easily be requested of any player. Many players on saxophone have trouble doing a portamento.



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 Re: pictures
Author: FrankM 
Date:   2006-03-03 15:42

I just googled the word portamento and in the description it said "often called a glissando"....so what is the performance difference between a gliss and a portamento?

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 Re: pictures
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2006-03-03 16:06

"Glissando" and "portamento" overlap.

A portamento is always a slide from one note to another, such as old-fashioned violin soloists make. Listen to Elman, for example. The interval is usually narrow. Vocalists use the word to describe a sliding connection between notes, almost always descending.

A glissando can be a sequence of notes. A piano or harp can play a glissando. I think of it as covering a wide interval.

A violin performance of Ravel's Piece en Forme Habanera has, at the end, a long, slow slide up an octave and then back down. This is done with a single finger. Some clarinetists leave it out, and some do a chromatic scale. I think of it as just a "slide."

The clarinet entrance in Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was originally written as a fast chromatic scale, but the first performer played a slide beginning in the second register. It's usually called a glissando, and it certainly wouldn't be called a portamento.

There's no precision in the usage. A particular item could easily be called a portamento, a glissando, a slide, a smear or any number of other things.

Don't worry. Be happy.

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Picture's phrasing !
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2006-03-03 16:20

When I first saw the mention here of "portamento" , my thot was "that's a "traveling bag" , a suitcase", so looking in my FR/Eng [and v v], portEmenteau [several spellings] is defined as such [cloak bag], with and without the A rather than the E, and the O rather than eau defined as the slide/glissando [in music]. Confusing? Fractured French-Italian, perhaps ?? Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: pictures
Author: cigleris 
Date:   2006-03-04 00:03

talking of Pictures anyone know if there is a version for Wind Octet (+contra)? I hope there isn't because i've nearly finshed (hopefully the first) one. I've played the one for wind 5tet. Regarding the sax giss, it's in my score but I don't recall it being done, can't decide if it makes a difference or not.

Peter Cigleris

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 Re: pictures
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-03-04 10:24

Don: the words portamento and portemanteau are related in their first syllable only.

"Port" in both cases means "carry", like the English "porter".

The Italian "...mento" doesn't mean anything on its own, it's just an inflection like "...ing" or "...ly" in English. So "portamento" just means "carryingly", if that were a word in English.

French "manteau", on the other hand, means "overcoat", and is related to the English "mantle". So "portemanteau" means "overcoat carrier", what we would call a "suitcase."

---

Jez: the authority on this work is Leonard Slatkin. Perhaps you should ask him.

-----------

If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.


Post Edited (2006-03-04 10:27)

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 Re: pictures
Author: LarryBocaner 2017
Date:   2006-03-04 13:33

With all due respect -- I've played "Pictures" many times with Slatkin (also Dorati, Rostropovich, Fruhbeck and many others); when we used the Ravel orchestration neither he nor any of the others ever asked for a glissando from the alto sax. Slatkin's current practice is to assemble a patchwork suite, combining movements arranged by Ravel, Stokowski, Gorchakov and Slatkin himself, among others. (The Goldenberg & Schmuyle epsisode uses a soprano sax insted of Ravel's muted trumpet).

This said, I don't think Slatkin qualifies as an "authority" on this work anymore than "the professor from Postdam." John Eliot Gardiner's re-instatement of Ravel's (intended?) glissando carries a little more musicological cachet -- it would be interesting to know what his thinking in the matter is.



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 Re: pictures
Author: Don Berger 
Date:   2006-03-04 22:46

I finally found my old LP, ML4700, Ormandy-Phil, of the Pictures, credit to Ravel. The alto sax, played beautifully with fairly rapid vibrato [early], and at least a well-executed slur C to F at the end, perhaps a rapid Port? , I cant tell ! Will play/listen again, love that music. Don

Thanx, Mark, Don

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 Re: pictures
Author: Zauberklarinette 
Date:   2006-03-30 01:33

I have seen this score and I have heard this piece and the saxophonist on the version i heard did not play a glissando. Also who wrote the post about a portamento being over a small interval is wrong. Glissandi and portamenti can be over any interval. There are differences between the two.

Glissandi
Glissandi are simply a series of pitches between two notes. That is a weak definition though. There are two types of glissandi: diatonic and chromatic. Diatonic means "according to the key signature/with the tonic (tonic key)". That means, say in the key of Eb, if a glissando is written from F to D, the glissando would be played F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D. In the case of chromatic glissandi, every half-step between the two pitches is played. In any key, a chromatic glissando from F to D would be played F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B, C, C#, D.


Portamenti
Portmanti are every single pitch down to individual cents between to pitches. The movement from one definite pitch to another is undetectable because no definite pitches are identifiably played during a portamento. An example of a portmento compared to a glissando is this: A glissando is a series of steps from the one floor to the next floor; a portamento is a smooth ramp from that first floor to the next floor.


"Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life"
~Ludwig van Beethoven

Post Edited (2006-03-30 01:37)

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 Re: pictures
Author: FrankM 
Date:   2006-03-30 16:15

So the way it's usually played, the opening of "Rhapsodie in Blue" is actually a portamento, not a glissando?

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 Re: pictures
Author: Zauberklarinette 
Date:   2006-04-04 20:42

The way the clarinet intro to Rhapsody in Blue is popularly played is a portamento. Well actually it usually starts out as a chromatic glissando and at about second-octave d, it becomes a portamento.

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 Re: pictures
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-04-05 09:43

Zauberklarinette - you make a clear distinction between glissando (a series of discrete pitches) and portamento (a continuous change of pitch).

It would be nice if you were right, but unfortunately you aren't. The word glissando is often used to describe a continuous change. Ask any trombone player what he calls that noise he makes when he moves the slide slowly during a note. It's a glissando.

Similar confusion reigns with tremolo/tremolando/vibrato. They mean different things to different people.

-----------

If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.


Reply To Message
 
 Re: pictures
Author: BobD 
Date:   2006-04-05 10:25

You bring up an interesting point,David. My question is this: Are these musical terms equally applicable to all instruments or should they be "bent" in accordance with each instrument's capabilities? For example, a trombone is constructed so that it may "glide" from a given note to a higher one with no perceptible interval. Although a gifted clarinet player can approach the same mode the clarinet is not constructed to play all of the same intervals that the trombone can. A piano can only approach what a trombone can in the same example and a harp has similar capabilities. String instruments such as the violin have their own limitations.

My second question is: Are these instrumental variations the reason why there is such confusion over the appropriate termininolgy?

Personal comment: Thanks to "Hank" I can now do a reasonable rendition of the named Sax solo on my Alto despite the fact that I cannot really play the sax....yet.

Bob Draznik

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 Re: pictures
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-04-05 12:49

BobD - I don't think these terms should be bent, but the fact is that they are. Try asking a trombone player to play a "portamento", or commenting that an electric guitar is fitted with a "vibrato arm". In each case you'd be using terminology that is logically correct, but at variance with what is used in practice.

As for why there is confusion, I think the real cause is the use of a language (Italian) that is foreign to most musicians. There are plenty of cases outside the world of music where foreign words are misused. American restaurants refer to the main course as an "entree"; this is misuse of French, where "entree" means a starter. American and British hotels have "en suite" bathrooms, which makes absolutely no sense whatever to a French speaker.

-----------

If there are so many people on this board unwilling or unable to have a civil and balanced discussion about important issues, then I shan't bother to post here any more.

To the great relief of many of you, no doubt.


Reply To Message
 
 Re: pictures
Author: Zauberklarinette 
Date:   2006-04-19 01:51

David Peacham said I was wrong!! Ha! I respect your opinion but I am afraid I am not wrong. Who cares what a trombonist call the noise he makes when he moves his slide while sustaining a note? If I call a violoncello a car, is it a car? A child may call the sound of a beached and dying whale music but this still does not make it so. I do agree with the part of your post saying that glissando is often used to describe a continuous change but using glissando in that context is still wrong. I know a tremolo is rapid (maybe not always at the speed of light but often kinda fast) fluctuation between two notes that are a semitone or more apart (ex D to Eflat, D to A, etc). I know that vibrato is ornamentation that involves the "rippling" of pitch. I know that my definition for glissando and portamento are right. If either term was interchangeable with the other it would be glissando where portamento was necessary even though that would still be wrong. A piccolo is a flute but a flute is not a piccolo.

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 Re: pictures
Author: John J. Moses 
Date:   2006-04-19 13:21

FYI:
I received a note from a prominent saxophone player and teacher here in NYC on the subject:
"I have only seen it in a reduction for piano and saxophone that Larry Teal published years ago in a compilation book of sax solos. However, while Ravel was/is a brilliant orchestrator, his knowledge of the saxophone was not extensive. I have a video tape interview of Marcel Mule talking about the Bolero solo and Ravel's desire to have the top saxophone part played on "F" sopranino. As Mule stated (and he was great!), there is no such animal. Hence, Mule played it on soprano with Ravel conducting and Ravel didn't even blink. Apparently, he thought of the saxophone family as being akin to the French Horn; hence "F" sopranino. All that is to say that he probably felt it was similar to a clarinet player making a gliss. The C-F gliss is not easy, sounds bad, and shouldn't be done. When I studied this with Joe Allard, he told me what he did was play the final "F" much louder than the preceding "C", so as to make the appearance of something in between existing (sounds like "Do-ah"), and then vibrating immediately on the "F", decrescendo to N.V,. and fade out with just the sound of air going through the horn. He said when he did this with the NY Philharmonic, he received a lot of rustling feet approval."

JJM
Légère Artist
Clark W. Fobes Artist

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 Re: pictures
Author: oboe123 
Date:   2018-09-08 06:53

Just a note from the future to say that at least one recording has the gliss (played as a fast chromatic scale, though the sax player certainly doesn't hit every note between the C and the F): London/Decca with Riccardo Chailly and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Hope that helps anyone else who finds this thread on a rainy night :) It's available on Spotify and YouTube.

YouTube link here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycEUIGPccmg

Credit to this website for the info: http://www.classicalcdreview.com/rlpic.htm



Post Edited (2018-09-08 06:55)

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