The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

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The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by Lance » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:53 am

… the more I love the instrument though I always had a great passion for it anyway.

I give many thanks to the late clarinetist, Dieter Klöcker, for making discoveries of clarinet concertos and works that might have been lost forever. He has unearthed so much music and much of it has been recorded by either him or one of his pupils, Giuseppe Porgo.

Most recently, I’ve been listening to the clarinet works by Antonio Casmir Cartellieri (1772-1807), specifically his clarinet concertos [Dabringhaus und Grimm label, and wonderful works by Franz Anton Hoffmeister (1754-1812) [Orfeo label] all performed by Dieter Klöcker with his pupil, Giuseppe Porgo. Hoffmeister, in his time, was better known as a publisher of music, but today he is recognized for his musical compositions.

So, I write this post because of the delight and joy I am receiving because of hearing this music.
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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:07 pm

I have never had any ambition to be a concerto soloist, but if I were given the opportunity, I might select the Clarinet Concerto of Paul Hindemith, simply because it doesn't (for the most part) try to be showy. I'd do it just for the enjoyment of the lines and to have fun with music I enjoy.

Although the piece is solidly tonal, Hindemith's melodic lines studiously avoid outlining triads. His preferred melodic interval, as will surprise no one, is the perfect fourth. The clarinet's opening statement takes advantage of the instrument's special acoustics, in which the upper register is a 12th higher, rather than just an octave, as is the case on the flute or oboe. So he writes great leaps which can be executed by just a small movement of the left thumb.

I don't know if its dedicatee, Benny Goodman, ever even performed it. I don't think he would have understood it. In any case, Hindemith was well served by the playing of the superb Louis Cahuzac.


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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by barney » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:39 pm

Thanks to both of you. I've never heard the Hindemith, and will seek it out. In fact, as I type I notice I don't have to go far to find it!

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by maestrob » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:49 pm

Thanks Mark. All of the music Hindemith conducted for EMI has been issued ina stereo 2 CD set with excellent sound, including the clarinet concerto.

Image

Also, Hindemith's recording of his Violin Concerto with David Oistrakh has finally been released in original jacket format as part of a set of Oistrakh's complete recordings for DGG, Phillips & Westminster.

AFAIK (maybe JohnF knows more details) Goodman premiered the Hindemith Clarinet Concerto in 1950.

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:16 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:49 pm
Thanks Mark. All of the music Hindemith conducted for EMI has been issued ina stereo 2 CD set with excellent sound, including the clarinet concerto.
AFAIK (maybe JohnF knows more details) Goodman premiered the Hindemith Clarinet Concerto in 1950.
I have that set, and was just enjoying it recently, the concerto and the Sinfonia Serena and Symphony for Band. I'm glad to know that Goodman actually did perform it.

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:31 pm

diegobueno wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:07 pm
I have never had any ambition to be a concerto soloist, but if I were given the opportunity, I might select the Clarinet Concerto of Paul Hindemith, simply because it doesn't (for the most part) try to be showy. I'd do it just for the enjoyment of the lines and to have fun with music I enjoy.

Although the piece is solidly tonal, Hindemith's melodic lines studiously avoid outlining triads. His preferred melodic interval, as will surprise no one, is the perfect fourth. The clarinet's opening statement takes advantage of the instrument's special acoustics, in which the upper register is a 12th higher, rather than just an octave, as is the case on the flute or oboe. So he writes great leaps which can be executed by just a small movement of the left thumb.

I don't know if its dedicatee, Benny Goodman, ever even performed it. I don't think he would have understood it. In any case, Hindemith was well served by the playing of the superb Louis Cahuzac.

Surely, Mark, as greatly my superior on this subject, you know that jazz clarinet and classical clarinet involve different embouchures, and that Goodman after a famous career as a jazz clarinetist went to the utmost lengths to pursue what he thought was a higher goal. (The only reason I know this is that the clarinet was my father's second wind instrument, and contrary to popular belief, its fingerings are completely different from the saxophone.)

Having done my best to get expelled from this site :) by my negative responses on said invention of Adolph Sax, I am happy to confirm my admiration for the clarinet. I mean, who wants to second-guess Mozart?


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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by John F » Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:02 pm

maestrob wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:49 pm
AFAIK (maybe JohnF knows more details) Goodman premiered the Hindemith Clarinet Concerto in 1950.
I know nothing about it, but according to Wikipedia, "The piece was premiered in 1950 by Benny Goodman, for whom it was composed in 1947, with the Philadelphia Philharmonic, conducted by Eugene Ormandy." That's what it did say; now it says Philadelphia Orchestra. :)

Goodman was not one to shy away from musical difficulty. His recordings include Bartok's "Contrasts," which he had commissioned and premiered, and the Nielsen concerto.
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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:11 pm

With Benny Goodman it's not a matter of him shrinking from difficulties. He had ample technique, and he clearly had a strong work ethic. He held his band to high standards, and his musicians lived in fear of getting "the ray" from him.

I'm sure he had no problem playing the notes of the concerto that Hindemith wrote for him.

Incidentally, the Bartók Contrasts is generally considered one of his best classical recordings. Not only did he nail Bartók's counterintuitively difficult licks, passages that leave you counting half steps and whole steps and leave you wondering why did he put a half step here, but in a different place in the next beat, he also got the spirit of the thing. He understood that this was all based on folk music and that it had to have the same sense of freedom, and the Hungarian equivalent of swing (whatever that may be) as his jazz. He got all of that -- and I imagine the prospect of playing with someone like Szigeti and Bartók himself made him woodshed the hell out of the piece.

The Nielsen Concerto recording, on the other hand, is generally recognized as one of his worst classical recordings. It has technical problems that are not found in other difficult concertos. Nothing special, just weird sequences of notes that twist your fingers into knots and supernaturally fast tonguing. Maybe if he'd worked on it in 1958 with the same intensity as he worked on Contrasts in 1938, he would have come up with as excellent a performance, but I don't think he understood the music.

The Hindemith isn't nearly as difficult as either of those two works. He might have just said "so what do I do with these notes?". Maybe he did understand them and gave a terrific performance. But the fact that Hindemith recorded it with someone else makes me wonder.

Is there a recording of the performance of the Hindemith Clarinet Concerto in some orchestra's archive, with Benny Goodman playing the solo part?

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by John F » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:41 am

Goodman never played the Hindemith concerto with the New York Philharmonic. His six performances of classical concertos, all of them in summer light music programs, were of the Mozart, Copland, and Weber #1 concertos. Copland himself conducted his concerto, in a couple of run-out performances at the Garden State Arts Center in NJ in 1969; almost certainly that was not recorded.

By the way, I said that "Goodman was not one to shy away from musical difficulty," not technical difficulty. Any experienced artist won't play what he doesn't have the technique to play, but Goodman's musical affinity for and support of tough 20th century music was praiseworthy.
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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:49 am

Lance started this thread with a tip of the hat to Dieter Klöcker, for his work in digging up and recording all the concertos of little-known 18th century composers. One of these concertos, the 2nd concerto of Francesco Rosetti (aka Franz Rössler), is well known to student clarinetists because a good edition with piano reduction was published in the 1960s for use by student clarinetists. I played it in high school for solo and ensemble contest, and later gave it to my students who weren't ready for the Mozart, for the same purpose.

Most students don't play it the way Klöcker does, because they're concerned with playing the printed notes correctly. But the printed notes are pretty plain, and in the 18th century would have been seen as a jumping-off place for improvised ornamentation, which Klöcker provides quite liberally here. More than just added trills and turns, there are wholesale departures from the printed text, interpolated “Eingänge” and an extended cadenza, all of Klöcker's invention. I knew musicologists at Cornell who spent a lot of time debating what kind of embellishment was stylistically correct and what wasn't in 18th century music. I don't know if they'd say Klöcker went overboard here. All I can say is that the piece calls for a lot of embellishment and Klöcker delivers.


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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by Heck148 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:17 am

diegobueno wrote:
Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:11 pm
The Nielsen Concerto recording, on the other hand, is generally recognized as one of his worst classical recordings. It has technical problems that are not found in other difficult concertos. Nothing special, just weird sequences of notes that twist your fingers into knots and supernaturally fast tonguing. Maybe if he'd worked on it in 1958 with the same intensity as he worked on Contrasts in 1938, he would have come up with as excellent a performance, but I don't think he understood the music.
Right, Goodman's recording of the Nielsen is a disaster. one wonders why it was even released...the technical problems seemed to overwhelm him....either that or he never really took the time to work them out..in any case, to me, it is virtually un-listenable....so many mistakes.

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:26 am

Since there's also a Messiaen discussion going on, I'd like to say just a couple words about Messiaen and the clarinet. His most celebrated work is, of course, the Quatuor pour la fin du temps, for clarinet, violin, cello and piano, written in a prisoner of war camp in WW2.

During his last decade Messiaen produced two brief works for the clarinet, one of them a characteristic exploration of bird song*, and the other one, unexpectedly, a Chant dans le style de Mozart.





* (actually the date of composition is not known. It was found among his papers when he died)

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by maestrob » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:06 pm

Richard Stolzman should be mentioned in this thread, as he is such an outstanding artist and has made some very fine recordings, in a wide range of repertoire from Messiaen to Mozart. Perhaps Sony could do us all a favor and issue a Big Box containing Stolzman's recordings.......

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by John F » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:34 pm

If the subject is outstanding classical clarinetists, there's no end to the list. My own list would have Jack Brymer at the top, and Stanley Drucker (formerly of the NY Phil) not far down in the list. And Stoltzman too, for sure.
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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by jserraglio » Mon Aug 28, 2017 4:41 pm

Leopold Wlach
Robert Marcellus
Franklin Cohen

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:33 pm

One of the Gods of clarinet playing today is Ricardo Morales. I'm posting this video, which is really just an advertisement for a special brand of clarinet which is fashionable today, manufactured by Morrie Backun in Vancouver. But he also demonstrates his incredibly even sound across registers and his agility with articulation, which drives mere mortal clarinetists to despair. The Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream Scherzo is a piece that you can be sure will appear on any professional orchestral audition, and he demonstrates why every major orchestra in the country has been vying to put him in their principal clarinet chair.



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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by R Gifford » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:53 am

It was nice seeing JSerraglio's (fellow Clevelander) posting of clarinet virtuosos Robert Marcellus and Franklin Cohen. Both recorded the Mozart concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra under Szell (Marcellus) and Dohnanyi (Cohen). Interestingly, JSerraglio's third clarinetist, Leopold Wlach also recorded the Mozart. It was for Westminster under Rodzinski and the VSOO. Rodzinski was a former Cleveland Orchestra music director. I have all three recordings and if I had to choose a favorite it would be the Wlach/Rodzinski. I'm sure it's because it was the only version of the work that I had for years. I loved the concerto and played the recording many times. So many of my favorite versions of works are the first ones I had. Back to Franklin Cohen. His recording of Golijov's Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind is perhaps the greatest example of virtuoso clarinet playing on record. There's three drawbacks to purchasing the recording: You may not like Golijov's music (I don't, particularly), the price of the recording is ridiculously high (on Amazon), and it may be hard to find (It's on a no-name label that was likely produced in Cleveland). One more thing. I find the comments about Benny Goodman and his playing of the Nielsen and Hindemith concertos as being "over his head" to be very condescending. Would a musician who performed and recorded with contemporary composers Bartok, Bernstein, Copland, Gould, and Stravinsky not understand what the Nielsen and Hindemith concertos are all about? Musically They're not that advanced. Furthermore, I doubt that neither Goodman nor Morton Gould would approve of releasing the Nielsen concerto if it were as bad as some of the postings would have us believe.

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by Heck148 » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:03 pm

R Gifford wrote:
Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:53 am
I find the comments about Benny Goodman and his playing of the Nielsen and Hindemith concertos as being "over his head" to be very condescending. Would a musician who performed and recorded with contemporary composers Bartok, Bernstein, Copland, Gould, and Stravinsky not understand what the Nielsen and Hindemith concertos are all about? Musically They're not that advanced. Furthermore, I doubt that neither Goodman nor Morton Gould would approve of releasing the Nielsen concerto if it were as bad as some of the postings would have us believe.
My comments re Goodman's attempt at the Nielsen Concerto is not meant to be condescending, but rather objective...there are really many flaws, so many that they become distracting...this unfortunately, for me, makes it rather unlistenable...Goodman may well have "understood" the music, but he just did not have the "chops" to play it...I have no idea why it was released....

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:26 pm

One of the masterworks of the Clarinet repertory, the Brahms Sonata op. 120, no. 2, is played here by another of the master clarinetists of the present, Anthony McGill, currently principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic. Unbelievable tone, legato, musicality. There's a long interview with him after the music, which I didn't watch, and maybe somewhere in there they identified the pianist, but the piano parts of all the great clarinet and piano literature are monsters to play (one of the tough spots occurs right at the 0:48 mark; it's like suddenly you're supposed to hear a full orchestra). They should have given the pianist credit up front. Anyway this is a great performance.



I saw Anthony McGill perform live once, but not as a soloist. John Adams brought an ensemble to the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress to perform a program of his Son of Chamber Symphony, Schoenberg's Kammersinfonie op. 9 and Stravinsky's Histoire du Soldat, and there was McGill playing one of the clarinet parts in the Schoenberg. It (the Schoenberg) was very energetic, in a piece which even in an average performance sounds like a nuclear reaction about to go out of control. "Dr. Atomic, indeed!" I thought.

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by maestrob » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:33 pm

Thanks for that, Mark! I love the Brahms, and McGill's playing is superb!

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:32 am

And not to forget Richard Stoltzman, certainly the most prominent solo clarinetist of our time, one of the few who can make a whole career as a soloist, without the need for an orchestral gig. His own playing style is so unique, he pretty much has to be the soloist. He, like Benny Goodman before him, is responsible for enriching the repertory with a long list of commissions, including the concerto featured here, by the Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara, composed in 2002 and premiered by Stoltzman in 2003. Rautavaara treats the instrument like a violin in a violin concerto, soaring above the orchestra in its very highest register. He allowed Stoltzman himself to write the cadenza.


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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by John F » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:15 pm

We haven't forgotten Richard Stoltzman, for sure; at least two of us have mentioned him in this thread. I wonder how he's been able to make ends meet through solo gigs and record royalties alone. A unique playing style is not necessarily a bar to playing in an orchestra; Reginald Kell was Beecham's principal clarinet in the London Philharmonic, and also played in contract orchestras for English Columbia recording sessions in the late 1920s (as did Leon Goossens). It's probably more about temperament than style, and perhaps about economics as well, whether one plays in an orchestra or not.
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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:07 pm

John F wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:15 pm
We haven't forgotten Richard Stoltzman, for sure; at least two of us have mentioned him in this thread. I wonder how he's been able to make ends meet through solo gigs and record royalties alone.
You must be desperate for something to dispute if you're going to pick apart the introductory words to my last post. But maestrob did say we shouldn't forget Richard Stoltzman, and I wished to reassure him that I had not.
I imagine Stoltzman makes ends meet the way most other celebrated soloists do. He has a high fee and a full schedule. He makes recordings, including crossover and jazz. He endorses clarinet products, does master classes, teaches students. He's also a Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef. Perhaps he picks up a few bucks for that when he's not otherwise engaged.
Last edited by diegobueno on Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:20 pm

[dupicate post deleted]

According to this site, Stoltzman's net worth is $3,000,000. Chicken feed compared to Itzhak Perlman's $10,000,000 or Yo Yo Ma's $25,000,000, but still I don't imagine he has to worry too much about making ends meet

https://www.celebritynetworth.com/riche ... net-worth/
Last edited by diegobueno on Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by diegobueno » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:21 pm

[triplicate post deleted]

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Re: The more I hear the classical clarinet ...

Post by Heck148 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:36 am

diegobueno wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:32 am
And not to forget Richard Stoltzman, certainly the most prominent solo clarinetist of our time, one of the few who can make a whole career as a soloist, without the need for an orchestral gig. His own playing style is so unique, he pretty much has to be the soloist.
Yes, I believe that is true - I remember reading an interview with Stoltzman, who said as much. When he was starting his career, he took a number of orchestral auditions, and was unsuccessful on repeated attempts - very likely due to his unique style, and his reluctance to always "color within the lines", "don't do anything too unusual or unique" in the early audition rounds.
Stoltzman said then, that he figured he had no other choice but to become a soloist, and make a go of it...which he has done...

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