Modern Music from the Past

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maestrob
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Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:08 pm

This NY Times piece describes how contemporary composers are more frequently commissioned to write music based on works by the great masters......

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/21/arts/ ... ctionfront

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by karlhenning » Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:52 pm

New Music has officially been Hollywoodized.

Cheers,
~k.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Sat Aug 20, 2016 4:28 pm

maestrob wrote:This NY Times piece describes how contemporary composers are more frequently commissioned to write music based on works by the great masters......
Brian thanks, I read the article and listened to the example provided-Jörg Widmann's “Con brio” partnered Beethoven’s seventh and eighth symphonies-Con brio didn't register with me-maybe I have to listen to it a few times more. Regards, Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:45 pm

Performance grants for new music make up a large portion of every orchestra's budget, so the question is more about lost ticket sales than anything else. I like what little I get to hear on disc, and wish I could hear it live. Current music that I'm hearing has moved away from ivory tower and is making an effort to reach out to a wider public, but what's described in the article sounds like an admission of defeat rather than genuine progress: a gimmick, if you will.

I'm interested in new music that makes me sit up and take notice, music that touches my emotions and makes me think at the same time, and that's hard to do. Still, I've found composers that do that for me, thankfully, and I'm grateful.

There seems to be no need to model music of today on Beethoven or even Bach. Leave them in peace, I say.

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:54 pm

The trend described in the article is indeed a gimmic, depending on commissions with the box office in mind. That said, its first paragraph is undeniable. Most composers (not all of them) have made their own individually creative uses of older music, whether or not we listeners recognize what they've done. It took Charles Rosen to make me aware of the relation between Chopin's music and Bach, and of how deeply and deliberately Brahms made creative use of his inheritance from earlier composers - not just Beethoven.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Sun Aug 21, 2016 4:12 am

maestrob wrote: but what's described in the article sounds like an admission of defeat rather than genuine progress: a gimmick, if you will.
Brian thanks-just listened to the whole Con Brio-didn't much care for it. Well at least it got me to look up con brio and learn a new term! Regards, Len :lol:

Con brio - definition of con brio by The Free Dictionary
www.thefreedictionary.com/con+brio
(Classical Music) music (to be performed) with liveliness or spirit, as in the phrase allegro con brio. [Italian: with energy]



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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by karlhenning » Sun Aug 21, 2016 9:34 am

John F wrote:. . . Most composers (not all of them) have made their own individually creative uses of older music, whether or not we listeners recognize what they've done. It took Charles Rosen to make me aware of the relation between Chopin's music and Bach, and of how deeply and deliberately Brahms made creative use of his inheritance from earlier composers - not just Beethoven.
Of course.

Cheers,
~k.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by IcedNote » Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:09 am

Too lazy to read the article ( :lol: ), so maybe this point has been made...

I've twice been commissioned to write new works "in response" to some masterwork. In both cases the performer was doing so because, A) They want to support new music, and B) They want to program said masterwork. What this does is give them a fresh program that contains a piece they've long wanted to perform but had previously never had the opportunity to do so.

My point is that the performers' whims are also in play here.

-G
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by IcedNote » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:50 pm

This response from Timo Andres, a very successful "young" composer, is getting a lot of love from my people:

http://www.andres.com/2016/08/22/responsorial/
David Allen’s article in this weekend’s New York Times looks at “sequel” compositions, a topic well worth exploring. I’m using “sequels” to mean: pieces written explicitly as companions to preexisting, often well-known, works. The article, in which I’m quoted a couple of times, portrays sequels as a pernicious programming trend initiated mainly by conservative administrators, afraid to scare off their audiences with anything truly “new”. But I think the real story is something quite a bit more nuanced.

When I was just starting to write music, the impulse grew out of my piano playing. My early pieces were imitative of the music I admired and knew best: Brahms, Ravel, Prokofiev, Beethoven, Copland. This is how any anybody starts writing music—pick a template you like and fill in your own notes. As my knowledge of the world (musical and otherwise) increased, so did my confidence to start designing my own templates, taking charge of the bones my pieces.

Aboriginal Shell MiddenI’ve always found this process extremely interesting—the transformation of raw materials drawn from the great heap of music history into something totally new. So writing musical companions was something I originally did of my own volition and became somewhat known for, which resulted in commissions to write more such pieces. As present count, 19 of my fifty-something pieces have historical antecedents, beginning 10 years ago with I Found it in the Woods, which takes two chords from Brahms’s A major violin sonata as its generative material. I’ve since used several different compositional processes to refer to, learn from, or simply have a good time with preexisting music: Austerity Measures and I Found it by the Sea work backwards, finding their way to the source material through layers of my own variations; my “re-composition” of Mozart’s Coronation concerto imposes my own music directly on top of its source; the Piano Quintet and The Blind Banister abstract Schumann and Beethoven, through oblique structural references rather than outright quotation. Writing these pieces has not been an exercise in pastiche or postmodernism, but rather an integral part of my compositional development—investigating distant connections, filling in the space between.

I also think the article didn’t give a true sense of what it might be like actually to write such a piece of music. Simply working in the classical music tradition is, for me, a great source of material (by which I mean: writing detailed instructions in a document which is given to performers, who then follow the instructions, producing a version of my piece). And part of this is acknowledging that people have been making music in this strange, roundabout way for a thousand years. So it’s understandable to want to look backwards once in awhile, maybe now especially, as the history-renouncing teleology of Modernism recedes.

But is it a kind of pandering? I don’t think it’s pandering to think about your audience now and then (and I know that by saying that, I’ll have lost a certain number of the people who read this). Any music can pander—if not to audiences, then to grant panels or tenure committees. Simply putting new music on the same program as Beethoven may not be enough to convince audiences of their commonality; a well-considered response can show without telling.

The context for my quote in the Times about nearing “the end of my rope” was in discussing whether or not these commissions have become a hackneyed programming trend. As with all trends, there are of course thoughtless and bad examples. Not every living composer can respond to every long-dead one and expect to illuminate. Perhaps not every masterpiece of the past demands a response. Winking quotations or musical inside jokes are a blind alley, a self-appreciative pat on the back. And an overdose of nostalgia for lost musical idylls tends merely to remind us who was excluded from the supposed “golden age”—women and minorities, who are still hugely underrepresented in contemporary music commissioning.

David Allen’s article failed to differentiate among the forms of responses composers have written, as well as the conditions under which they might succeed or fail. If composers were in fact being talked into writing certain kinds of pieces by new-music-wary orchestral administrators, as the article seems to imply, this would indeed have a chilling effect on creative freedom in our field.

But in my own experience, this couldn’t be further from the case. For The Blind Banister, the pianist Jonathan Biss approached me with an idea for a project that he had devised independently (the Beethoven/5 commissions). So I had one more piece of information than I usually do when beginning a piece: the soloist, the instrumentation, the duration, plus Beethoven’s second concerto. A handful of orchestras signed on to commission it (on the strength of their faith in Jonathan, more than anything else), the piece was premiered, another small handful of orchestras decided to program it (one, audaciously, Beethoven-less!)—and so a new piece of music makes its tentative way in the world.

Jonathan Biss will respond with his perspective as a performer and commissioner later this week; watch this space.
-G
Harakiried composer reincarnated as a nonprofit development guy.

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:35 pm

At the beginning and end of his career, Beethoven consciously emulated specific works by his great predecessors. His string quartet in A major, op 18 no 5, is closely and consciously modelled on Mozart's quartet in A major in the set dedicated to Haydn, though of course with different themes. And his last great piano work, the Diabelli Variations, is as much a sequel to Bach's Goldbergs (which Beethoven knew) as if he had said so on the title page. Of course nobody asked him to; all Diabelli wanted from him was a single variation for an album shared by other composers.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:29 pm

karlhenning wrote:New Music has officially been Hollywoodized.

Cheers,
~k.
You only just noticed? This has been going on for a long time. It's why you have to scrape me off the floor after the world premiere and probably only performance of practically every piece of new music.

To John F: Beethoven starting out as a continuation of the Classical Style is not at all to be compared to the phenomenon at hand. The whole point is that there are very few modern masterpieces because of a bogus retrogression, whether conscious on the part of the composer or not.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Tue Aug 23, 2016 2:21 am

jbuck919 wrote:Beethoven starting out as a continuation of the Classical Style is not at all to be compared to the phenomenon at hand. The whole point is that there are very few modern masterpieces because of a bogus retrogression, whether conscious on the part of the composer or not.
Your point, maybe, but not mine. My example was not merely "Beethoven starting out as a continuation of the Classical Style" in a general way but his having written one of his compositions as a response to and imitation of a specific earlier work - and that is very much to the point of this thread.

I don't believe anyone (except you) has said "there are very few modern masterpieces." There are a great many modern masterpieces, of course. Some are what's called neoclassical in style, which is a form of conscious, deliberate musical retrogression. At the time, it was thought bogus by many modern composers and critics, coming as it did from the composer of "Rite of Spring"; Schoenberg and Boulez were among the complainers. Ironically, Schoenberg later had a (somewhat) neoclassical period of his own, while Boulez conducted and recorded Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements and even "Pulcinella."
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 23, 2016 8:30 am

lennygoran wrote: Brian thanks-just listened to the whole Con Brio-didn't much care for it.
A follow up--our treeman was here yesterday so I was outside for a lot of the day-still I tried this con brio 3 more times and it just doesn't work for me-it did get me thinking about not having listened to Beethoven's 7th symphony for some time so I put it on while in the kitchen making dinner-what a work no matter how many times I hear it! I have a number of recordings but I was playing the one I have on a cassette tape that has Beethoven's 7th and 8th symphonies as well as the Choral Fantasy and the Rondo in B Flat for piano and orchestra.

I had forgotten the similarities of the Choral Fantasy and the 9th symphony as described by wiki. Regards, Len
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choral_Fa ... h_Symphony

One thng that confused me was the cassette cover-it seems to have different orchestras and conductors listed depending on which part of the cassette cover you look at-I took a photo of the cover but it may be too hard to read? Regards, Len

Image

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Tue Aug 23, 2016 8:42 am

Classical Cassette Club (Dubbings Electronics USA) didn't make these recordings but licensed them from Vox and repackaged them. Such operations may be careless about credits, since basically these aren't sales points for their products. The only important name here is the famous pianist Alfred Brendel, recorded at the beginning of his long career.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 23, 2016 8:53 am

John F wrote:Classical Cassette Club (Dubbings Electronics USA) didn't make these recordings but licensed them from Vox and repackaged them. Such operations may be careless about credits, since basically these aren't sales points for their products. The only important name here is the famous pianist Alfred Brendel, recorded at the beginning of his long career.
Thanks what made me look twice was on the main cover you see the name Wilfred Boettcher but when you look at the next page other conductors are mentioned-Edourd Van Remoortel and Heinz Wallenberg. So while cooking and finishing before hearing the whole cassette I got to sym 7 conducted by Van Remoortel and the choral fantasy conducted by Boettcher-I loved listening to both works but can't say how they would stack up against other conductors-they sure delivered the goods for me. I do plan on continuing with the cassette in a few days and will get to Wallenberg conducting sym 8--my feeling is I'll love that one too. Regards, Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:17 am

A Beethoven performance that's just competent can still pack quite a punch - the composer has something to do with that. With better conductors and orchestras it's better, but you might not notice the difference, or care about it much.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:30 am

John F wrote:A Beethoven performance that's just competent can still pack quite a punch - the composer has something to do with that. With better conductors and orchestras it's better, but you might not notice the difference, or care about it much.
Thanks, I think you've stated where I am with regard to music appreciation very well-the music I listen too does seem to pack quite a punch-otoh I wonder if I could even tell if a conductor was giving a performance that was less than competent? Regards, Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:43 am

Beethoven's VII is actually imho the least difficult of the symphonies to perform as written on the page, requiring minimal rehearsal. The Choral Fantasy, otoh, is filled with tricky bars that require intense preparation, thus it is not given often. Discovered in the early 1960's IIRC, the first recording commercially available was with Rudolf Serkin on Columbia, altho Richter did play the piece for RAI at around the same time and may have been earlier.

The Serkin release is better than Richter, IMHO.

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 23, 2016 12:17 pm

maestrob wrote:Beethoven's VII is actually imho the least difficult of the symphonies to perform as written on the page, requiring minimal rehearsal. The Choral Fantasy, otoh, is filled with tricky bars that require intense preparation, thus it is not given often. Discovered in the early 1960's IIRC, the first recording commercially available was with Rudolf Serkin on Columbia, altho Richter did play the piece for RAI at around the same time and may have been earlier.

The Serkin release is better than Richter, IMHO.
Brian is there anyway we could consider Beethoven's sym 7 a sequel to the Choral Fantasy in a manner like what this Times article you alerted us to talks about-true in this case it's the same composer-I guess it might be that the other examples present 2 composers and are moving from classical to modern? Regards, Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:25 pm

lennygoran wrote:
maestrob wrote:Beethoven's VII is actually imho the least difficult of the symphonies to perform as written on the page, requiring minimal rehearsal. The Choral Fantasy, otoh, is filled with tricky bars that require intense preparation, thus it is not given often. Discovered in the early 1960's IIRC, the first recording commercially available was with Rudolf Serkin on Columbia, altho Richter did play the piece for RAI at around the same time and may have been earlier.

The Serkin release is better than Richter, IMHO.
Brian is there anyway we could consider Beethoven's sym 7 a sequel to the Choral Fantasy in a manner like what this Times article you alerted us to talks about-true in this case it's the same composer-I guess it might be that the other examples present 2 composers and are moving from classical to modern? Regards, Len
Sorry, Len, I don't hear a musical connection between the Choral Fantasy and the Seventh Symphony, other than that they are by the same composer. :)

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:27 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sorry, Len, I don't hear a musical connection between the Choral Fantasy and the Seventh Symphony, other than that they are by the same composer. :)
Brian sorry-I messed up-I meant the 9th symphony. Regards, Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 23, 2016 5:32 pm

John F wrote:
jbuck919 wrote:Beethoven starting out as a continuation of the Classical Style is not at all to be compared to the phenomenon at hand. The whole point is that there are very few modern masterpieces because of a bogus retrogression, whether conscious on the part of the composer or not.
Your point, maybe, but not mine. My example was not merely "Beethoven starting out as a continuation of the Classical Style" in a general way but his having written one of his compositions as a response to and imitation of a specific earlier work - and that is very much to the point of this thread.

I don't believe anyone (except you) has said "there are very few modern masterpieces." There are a great many modern masterpieces, of course. Some are what's called neoclassical in style, which is a form of conscious, deliberate musical retrogression. At the time, it was thought bogus by many modern composers and critics, coming as it did from the composer of "Rite of Spring"; Schoenberg and Boulez were among the complainers. Ironically, Schoenberg later had a (somewhat) neoclassical period of his own, while Boulez conducted and recorded Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements and even "Pulcinella."
I didn't think we were talking about "early" modernism. I thought we were talking about what might have been composed in the last 50 years or so, to state a terminus a quo. There are masterpieces in there too if one goes hunting for them, but they are not acknowledged the way Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartok, etc. are acknowledged. Perhaps I misunderstood.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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maestrob
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:14 pm

lennygoran wrote:
maestrob wrote:Beethoven's VII is actually imho the least difficult of the symphonies to perform as written on the page, requiring minimal rehearsal. The Choral Fantasy, otoh, is filled with tricky bars that require intense preparation, thus it is not given often. Discovered in the early 1960's IIRC, the first recording commercially available was with Rudolf Serkin on Columbia, altho Richter did play the piece for RAI at around the same time and may have been earlier.

The Serkin release is better than Richter, IMHO.
Brian is there anyway we could consider Beethoven's sym 7 a sequel to the Choral Fantasy in a manner like what this Times article you alerted us to talks about-true in this case it's the same composer-I guess it might be that the other examples present 2 composers and are moving from classical to modern? Regards, Len
Yes, well, if you meant the IXth, then of course there is a definite correlation, or evolution, but it's the same idea but made more sophisticated and polished in the Ninth symphony, in this case by the same composer. Mahler did the same thing in his First and Second symphonies, when he adapted and enlarged upon several of his songs (St. Anthony Preaching to the Fish used in the 2nd movement of his Symphony No. 2 for example).

Composers often quote themselves and lift (I won't say steal) ideas: it's just part of the fun in great music, discovering these tricks.

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:18 am

Brian thanks-talk about discovering I just discovered yesterday I wasn`t familiar with mozart`s 39th-amazing how I missed it-I have recordings and of course there`s you tube-was watching harnoncourt conducting it-didn`t realize he didn`t use a baton. Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:40 am

Much of the time, the 39th is my favorite Mozart symphony. I'm a pushover when he uses clarinets.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:22 am

John F wrote:Much of the time, the 39th is my favorite Mozart symphony. I'm a pushover when he uses clarinets.
It`s always nice for me when I discover a new classical music treasure-I could see that just from listening to a small part of it it`s gonna be a winner for me-we`re away right now but when we get back it`s first on my list of music to be listening to! Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Wed Aug 24, 2016 11:28 am

Len: Have you tried Mozart's clarinet concerto, or the bassoon concerto? The bassoon concerto is rarely recorded, because the range of the modern bassoon doesn't go as low as the one used in Mozart's time. It's a wonderful piece.

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:31 pm

I didn't know that about the range of the solo bassoon part. Can you say more about it?

According to Del Mar's "Anatomy of the Orchestra," "Although the bottom note of the bassoon is now firmly standardized as low B flat, there was a time when the instrument lacked two crucial low notes above this fundamental, namely C# and B natural. This explains the odd makeshifts to be found in some repertoire scores such as Beethoven's Symphony #9." Mozart's concerto is in B flat, so it would seem well designed to fit the compass of the instrument now as well as then, and the "missing notes" Del Mar mentions are presumably available on modern instruments.

The bassoon concerto is played by symphony orchestras now and then to feature their principal bassoonist. Judith LeClair of the New York Philharmonic has played it in five seasons since 1983.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by lennygoran » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:16 pm

maestrob wrote:Len: Have you tried Mozart's clarinet concerto, or the bassoon concerto? The bassoon concerto is rarely recorded, because the range of the modern bassoon doesn't go as low as the one used in Mozart's time. It's a wonderful piece.[/img]
Brian thanks, yes I have both concertos-I play the clarinet concerto from time to time and enjoy it-as for the bassoon concerto my records indicate I have it-can't remember if I ever played it-even worse I can't seem to find it anywhere in my house but I'll keep looking. Regards, Len

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:06 am

John F wrote:I didn't know that about the range of the solo bassoon part. Can you say more about it?

According to Del Mar's "Anatomy of the Orchestra," "Although the bottom note of the bassoon is now firmly standardized as low B flat, there was a time when the instrument lacked two crucial low notes above this fundamental, namely C# and B natural. This explains the odd makeshifts to be found in some repertoire scores such as Beethoven's Symphony #9." Mozart's concerto is in B flat, so it would seem well designed to fit the compass of the instrument now as well as then, and the "missing notes" Del Mar mentions are presumably available on modern instruments.

The bassoon concerto is played by symphony orchestras now and then to feature their principal bassoonist. Judith LeClair of the New York Philharmonic has played it in five seasons since 1983.
Good grief, John, I'm glad you caught me out on this one! In a moment of haste, I confused the clarinet and the bassoon! From what I remember, the clarinet concerto was written for Anton Paul Stadler, who experimented with the clarinet (then a new instrument) by adding a segment, allowing the instrument to sound an additional four semitones (D#, D, C# and C) below the standard E natural. The original autograph score has been lost, however today's version for A-clarinet has been known since 1801.

A senior moment, for sure. :oops:

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Thu Aug 25, 2016 2:29 am

Ah so! But it's a pity, I thought I might be learning something new.

The clarinet virtuoso and Mozart's friend Anton Stadler had several instruments built with different ranges, and Mozart happened to compose his concerto for one of them that didn't catch on. At first he began it for the basset horn, a lower pitched clarinet still in use, but changed his mind. Not that Mozart or Stadler ever said anything about all this, but the standard published version of the concerto has several passages in which the solo line heads down, then awkwardly jumps up an octave to complete the musical line. Even though the original manuscript is missing, as you say, it's easy to infer that Mozart, who never wrote any awkward music in his life, didn't write these passages that way.

The first recording of a hypothetical original version appeared in the 1970s, I believe (that's when I first heard it), and it's convincing. Since then, all the live performances I've heard have used what is sometimes called (confusingly) a basset clarinet. Still, I miss the brighter tone of the standard modern clarinet in A, and the great performances I have on records - by Jack Brymer, Beecham's 1st clarinet, and Richard Stoltzman, among others - have used it. Though I believe Stoltzman may later have used the basset clarinet.
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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by maestrob » Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:52 pm

This recording made in the 1980's using a copy of the bass clarinet made in 1984 is still available and gets five stars on amazon from 35 reviewers: warmly recommended. Stolzman uses a modern instrument very effectively in his recording as well.

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Re: Modern Music from the Past

Post by John F » Fri Aug 26, 2016 2:43 pm

Jack Brymer and Richard Stoltzman are outstanding clarinettists; Beecham a great Mozart conductor, Stoltzman got the orchestra to play the concerto his way. Antony Pay is merely OK, Hogwood no more than adequate in Mozart. The musicians matter more than the instrument.
John Francis

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