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BILL NEWMAN talks to British clarinettist


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Other musicians you perform with, are they your own choosing? 'I chose them because we basically agreed on our approach to Mozart. This can be a touchy subject - some like the non-emotional, classically paired-down performance, ours is the more romantic approach'. Like the contrasts between Walter, Beecham and Klemperer? All acceptable because the greater the music, the more open the interpretation. 'Mozart is always greater than any of the treatments he gets'. That didn't stop the BBC Radio 3 record critic who said her only problem was changing tempo at certain places. So what! 'There's no rules, and Mozart was before the age of the metronome. I can just imagine that artists would have done certain passages slower to heighten the expression, and then move on again for the more rhythmic sections. I am sure that was the way they performed, but people now regard the rule as one metronome marking throughout the whole symphonic movement, and you stick to it. I just don't see it that way; there has to be one overall long term rubato within a piece - not huge, obviously, but controlled. If you do take time over the second subject because it contains more melodic high, large intervals, you make up the time later when you reach that cadential point that marks the return to the home key, and you're rushing home to the close. Basically you need an overall plan in your head with an awareness of the time span of any particular movement to know where you can risk slowing down without overdoing it, then moving forward'. It can be different every time you perform it. 'Yes, exactly! Music is a living, breathing thing, and depending on who you play with, that affects you so much. Some reviewers are under the impression that I decide everything - this is a chamber piece for five players, and if it's going to be good music it has to be everyone's cooperative decision and responsibility. If the cellist phrases his solo a certain way, you have to respond accordingly'.

I love talking to chamber groups. After Gabor Takacs-Nagy left the Takacs Quartet, I interviewed their latest members about fighting amongst themselves, literally thrashing their ideas to and fro to come up with the answer to problems. Is it always like this? Of course it is! 'You can't get your way in everything'. No there has to be a compromise, some kind of common denominator. 'But with an overall plan - if you can't agree on that, you shouldn't be playing together; you have to have the same basic outlook, but the details are important. Humility without being dominant, a sort of conversation between five people, especially the Mozart which is certainly not for solo clarinet accompanied by five string players. The Weber is more like a mini-concerto. A great amount of collaboration'.

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Copyright © 18 July 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK





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