Music and Vision homepage




BILL NEWMAN talks to British clarinettist


<< Continued from last week

As a stick-in-the-mud, I have this obvious hang-up about works of certain modern composers resulting in the detriment of really gorgeous music, like the Gerald Finzi Concerto. 'There was a time during the 1960s, 70s and 80s when modern works had a complete stranglehold, but in the late 90s came the slow beginnings of a change, with its willingness to look at more traditional music - music that is not going to break into new territories by abandoning the rules of the past - that is just more tuneful. Sir Malcolm Arnold is another example, and I was trying to think what it is that makes our music English, and decided that it is the folk inflections, the special harmonisations that find their way into scores. With Finzi, I found out very quickly how it should go - something quintessentially English despite the Italian roots that go a long way back - by being surrounded by the countryside I know so well.

'I also have this fondness for Mozart and Weber because of the way they lofted the clarinet'. And wrote for the leading artists of their day. There is that extra roundness and richness in performing Mozart on the basset clarinet. 'The lower bottom notes, too, which was the key to Stadler's playing; both Mozart and Weber were excited by the sound of the instrument, something you won't find with today's contemporary composers. Especially Weber, who was intrigued by the clarinet's ability to go so low and dark, so high and bright, springing from the theatrical drama and excitement of his youth when his father organized touring musicians that trekked all round Germany. It became his whole background and industry until he eventually collapsed from overwork, sadly dying in London. Unjustly neglected since that strong essence of colourful drama first bowled audiences over, by 1815 or 17 - his music never shallow on the surface as some think - looks forward to Rossini; without him Liszt and Wagner would not have happened'. The sheer versatility and facility of a composer writing for and communicating with his audience, allied to the performer personality in a quite different way to Beethoven and his music for mankind.

Continue >>

Copyright © 18 July 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK





 << Music & Vision home           Libor Pesek >>