BILL NEWMAN talks to British clarinettist EMMA JOHNSON
<< Continued from page 1
'I have no objections to popularizing classical music in this country.
Having it and funding it, I am happy that Nigel Kennedy does a dance while
he plays. Fine! - as long as this results in a happier future for the industry,
but I know of no orchestra, apart from perhaps the LSO, who feels at all
secure that it will still be with us in a year's time - there is a lot of
confusion and nail biting.' The LSO have started recording live concerts
where the immediacy, spontaneity and charisma of the occasion makes up for
what the studio recording lacks. 'I agree with that, and I sometimes make
recordings of my own concerts to learn about the way I play , but it's hard
to set up and often you require two performances at the same venue for editing
purposes. Generally, records are second best to the live event.' More expensive
also? 'No, overall costs are about the same.'
'Right hall acoustics are also important. One of my projects is to re-record
the Mozart Concerto on the basset clarinet, but shortage of venues is a
problem. I would like to perform it at St. Johns, Smith's Square beforehand
but studio recording is still the better bet, although they are shortly
trying to improve the acoustical properties of the Royal Festival Hall.'
Record companies also make use of church halls; although cheaper they can
pose difficulties with over-reverberation causing congestion in the tuttis.
'Recording can be weird; often what you think you sound like is not so at
all when you listen to the playbacks. I try to listen to all my takes, and
what I know is my normal clarinet timbre now sounds like something on the
end of the instrument that alters what I am trying to achieve, magnifiying
what I am unaware of like taking a breath, or the clicking of keys, which
in a concert situation I would be totally unaware. Often, you also have
to tone your performance down otherwise it will sound impossibly exaggerated,
and have to guard against it becoming boring. But you can afford to take
risks - which I do all the time anyway'. Like Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto,
which almost invites you into feats of daring. You go for it! 'Hardest
is the Radio 3 recording in front of a huge audience: Do I have to play
in front of a microphone to reach the back of the hall, the 800th person?
It's a very different experience, and this perhaps explains why some musicians
who wear earphones relayed to sound engineers in the playback room are more
aware of how their performances are coming over.
Copyright © 11 July 2000
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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