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 Bach Brandenburg #2 on Eb clarinet
Author: johng 2017
Date:   2006-08-20 18:10

This week I played at a chamber music get-together where tradition has it that one evening every year is devoted to playing all of the Bach Brandenburg Concertos. This is great for the strings and some of the winds, but the poor clarinets are left out. This festival is set up so there is a balance of winds and strings, but just horns for the brass.

Someone suggested they had heard the 2nd concerto played with an Eb clarinet playing the piccolo trumpet in F part. The french horn players who usually play this part were all too glad to have a break since the part goes frightenly high for them. After consulting with them about the transposition I found I could play the part tranposing up a step, just like we do playing C clarinet parts in orchestras.

So I sight-read it and it went just fine. The music doesn't stray far from F major so it was not much of a strain. Most people were amazed about how much like a piccolo trumpet it sounded like. I understand there is a recording of a major player doing this. We get so little real Bach playing I thought it was worth enduring the purist's irritation about altering Bach's intentions.

Anyway, if you ever get the chance to play it on Eb, jump on it because it was a kick to do!

John Gibson, Founder of JB Linear Music, www.music4woodwinds.com

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 Re: Bach Brandenburg #2 on Eb clarinet
Author: Merlin 
Date:   2006-08-20 19:21

Someone may have been thinking of Pablo Casal's Brandenburg's, with Marcel Mule playing either soprano or sopranino saxophone on the trumpet part.

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 Re: Bach Brandenburg #2 on Eb clarinet
Author: crnichols 
Date:   2006-08-20 19:28

I heard our own poster Michael Norsworthy perform this some years ago at the New England Conservatory with the Bach Ensemble there. I don't think he played the Eb clarinet though, I think he used the Bb clarinet. He did a fantastic job too!

Christopher Nichols, D.M.A.
Assistant Professor of Clarinet
University of Delaware

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 Re: Bach Brandenburg #2 on Eb clarinet
Author: mnorswor 
Date:   2006-08-20 22:38

One of the most terrifying concerts of my life, playing Bach on stage for real people. John Gibbons (Chamber Society of Lincoln Center) asked me to do it as a result of the way Casals did it with saxophone. John always thought that the woody sound of a clarinet would be more suitable than the saxophone. So, we tried it and he liked it and I've done it several times since. I do it on the Bb instrument, however, not the Eb.

Thanks for the compliment Chris, much appreciated :)

--Michael Norsworthy
Professor of Clarinet, The Boston Conservatory
Principal Clarinet, BMOP
Artist in Residence Harvard University, HGNM
Performing Artist/Clinician Buffet Crampon, Rico Reeds

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 Re: Bach Brandenburg #2 on Eb clarinet
Author: crnichols 
Date:   2006-08-21 05:09

No trouble at all Michael. If you really love playing Bach though, I think the a minor partita for flute is a fantastic piece to play on the clarinet. I've heard oboists, saxophonists and tubists perform it, but never clarinetists. I'm giving a recital entirely of transcriptions next month, and I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes off.

Christopher Nichols, D.M.A.
Assistant Professor of Clarinet
University of Delaware

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 Re: Bach Brandenburg #2 on Eb clarinet
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2006-08-22 16:51

I'm pretty sure that Mule played a soprano sax on the Casals recording, not a sopranino. At least that's what the reissue says.

I've played a read-through on a C clarinet, which I thought was closer to the trumpet sound.

For many years, a group of about 24 professional singers had a Messiah Party during the last week of the year, with harpsichord, string quartet and bass. I frequently did "The Clarinet Shall Sound."

Ken Shaw

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 Re: Bach Brandenburg #2 on Eb clarinet
Author: David Peacham 
Date:   2006-08-22 16:59

Ken refers to "The Clarinet Shall Sound."

The English text, of course, refers to the trumpet, which is the instrument used by Handel. The German Bible uses the word "Posaune", meaning trombone. Mozart's arrangement uses the words "Sie schallt, die Posaune", but although he uses trombones elsewhere in the work, he gives the solo part to a horn.


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.

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