Professional Wind Instrument Consultants of nj

Northbranch Records, LLC, P.O. Box 5233, North Branch, NJ 08876, (908) 252-2828,
Clarinetist Liner Notes
There are generally two reasons for a performer to compose music for his or her own instrument. There is music for use in performance, often as a virtuoso, and there is music as pedagogical material for students. The former frequently serves as the latter.
Every instrument has had its share of composer/performers. The advancement of technique in instrumental playing is dependent on them. They range from the purely pedagogical (Hanon for the piano, Sevcik for the violin) to the greatest composers working to advance instrumental technique (Bach and Mozart for both violin and keyboard;  Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin and Rachmaninoff for the piano; Tartini for the violin) to those who are somewhere in between (Godowski, Paganini, Kreisler). There have been and continue to be clarinetists who are skilled composers and who produce music of great value, but no clarinetist composers have yet reached the level of acclaim of a Rachmaninoff or Mozart.

This collection represents music written by a professional clarinetist for another specific clarinetist (Yadzinski), music written for performance by the composer as virtuoso performer (Magnani, Cahuzac, Bassi and Dorff), and compositions to be performed as both pedagogue and performer (Jettel and Cavallini).

The technique of clarinet playing as well as the design of the instrument have by necessity advanced as the demands placed on it as an orchestral and solo instrument have increased. The most famous of the early methods for clarinet is that by Karl Bärmann (1820-1885), son of the great virtuoso Heinrich (1784-1847), for whom Weber had written many works. Heinrich himself was considered a composer of great skill in his own time. Karl’s method is still in use today despite the fact that the clarinet he played is now obsolete. Karl also wrote a tremendous number of concert works for his own use as a virtuoso performer, many with quite expressive titles (A Dream, The Savoyard’s Complaint, During Sleep Strange Visions Will Haunt You). These works today are used as pedagogical material exclusively. Only Karl’s operatic fantasias still appear on recital programs with any frequency.
Around the same time that Karl Bärmann was writing his material, Italian Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874) toured Europe as a virtuoso after serving at the opera house La Fenice in Venice as well as La Scala in Milan. He eventually settled in St. Petersburg, Russia. Bärmann was great enough a musician to be known personally to Rossini and Verdi, and when Verdi received a commission to write an opera for St. Petersburg, he included a long clarinet solo for his friend Cavallini (The opera was La Forza del Destino).
Cavallini performed his own virtuosic compositions on a relatively crude boxwood clarinet with few keys. He was criticized by some for his tone quality and intonation, but noted for his brilliant technique and highly expressive phrasing. His 30 Capricci per Clarinetto run the gamut from purely technical exercises to bel canto impromptus. They are splendid examples of the Italian style of melodic composition. I have chosen one outstanding example for this album.
Another famous principal clarinetist of La Scala was Luigi Bassi (1833-1871). Bassi is best remembered now for his operatic fantasias, most prominently one based on Verdi’s Rigoletto. I have chosen his short Nocturne  for this album. In addition to being a tiny gem of a work, it was also the very first solo work I ever learned (unless “Frosty the Snowman” counts). The Nocturne came back to me recently via a student, and I was reminded of how lovely and well crafted a work it is.
Aurelio Magnani (1856-1921) was better known as a teacher than performer. He taught in Venice and Rome and produced many pupils. He wrote a clarinet method in addition to the included Mazurka Caprice. The work is pure charm throughout, and shows the superb craftsmanship of someone who knows the clarinet intimately.
In France, the development of clarinet technique was taken very seriously, as was clarinet manufacturing. In 1842, Hyacinthe Klosé (1808-1880) helped to invent the Klosé-Buffet or “Boehm System” clarinet, a design still in use by clarinetists outside the Germanic countries. Klosé also wrote a celebrated method for the clarinet which is still in use today. After Klosé, his student Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was an important teacher and composer of pedagogical material still widely in use today. Much of Rose’s output was adapted from violin etudes by other composers.
One of  Rose’s students was Louis Cahuzac (1880-1960). Cahuzac was one of very few clarinetists who made a career as soloist in the early part of the century. He was an exceptional artist, with a glorious sound and smooth technique. He remained active his whole life, recording the Hindemith Concerto under the composer’s baton at the age of 78! His works are always charming and enjoyable to perform. The Pastorale Cévenole and Cantilène are delightful encore-type pieces, and thus are submitted as encores in the present collection. The Pastorale is a musical picture of Cahuzac’s beloved southern France and its mountains. Various echo-type effects are employed to represent the open, mountainous spaces. Arlequin is called “a character piece” and is a musical representation of the jester-like character of the traditional Italian “Commedia del Arte.”
In 20th Century Vienna, music was advancing at a similar pace but in different directions than in Paris. Perhaps out of necessity for more advanced technical ability, Viennese clarinetists started a tradition of composing which continues today. Viktor Polatschek (1889-1948) taught at the Vienna Conservatory and played at the Opera and in the Vienna Philharmonic before moving to America to become principal clarinetist of the Boston Symphony. He did not write many etudes, but did write one book of very high quality. It consists of paraphrases from famous works, usually transposed into very awkward keys. One is based on Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and follows the clarinet part of one movement of that work quite closely.
Among Polatschek’s students was Rudolf Jettel (1903-1981). Jettel followed his teacher as Principal clarinetist at the Opera and Philharmonic and as professor. Jettel took composing quite seriously and wrote a huge number of etudes in addition to a clarinet method and many concert works. His best-known books of etudes are those entitled The Advanced Clarinetist and Prelude to the Advanced Clarinetist, each consisting of three volumes. Interestingly, the “Prelude” books were composed second, apparently because the extreme difficulty of The Advanced Clarinetist was far beyond the capability of the students! After those he wrote two volumes entitled Special Etudes which are really a prelude to the Prelude. Jettel’s co-principal clarinetist for the latter part of his career, Alfred Prinz (1930- ) has continued the Viennese tradition by composing a large number of works himself.
Jettel was a virtuoso performer as a clarinetist and saxophonist. He was especially noted for his rapid articulation, and was given the nickname “Staccato-Gigerl” (roughly “Staccato dude”) by his colleagues in a band he performed with as saxophonist. Perhaps the Konzert-Etüde : Uber ein Thema aus Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys Muzik zu “Ein Sommernachtstraum”  was not as much of a challenge for him as it is for most clarinetists. It is a clever work, ferociously difficult technically and quite tricky rhythmically. Jettel does not spare the pianist either!
The Vier Konzert-Etüden comprise half of the third and final volume of The Accomplished Clarinetist, the only volume for clarinet with piano. The other half of this volume is Jettel’s First Sonata for clarinet and piano. These four short etudes are packed with tremendous difficulties of every kind. They are purposely written “in the cracks” of clarinet technique, finding the difficult things a performer might need to do and stretching them out. This is the exact opposite of a composer like Cahuzac, whose music fits under the hands so nicely. Without a doubt, Jettel took the title “Etude” seriously! Compositionally, it is hard to categorize Jettel. His music is sometimes very austere, not particularly melodic, very chromatic and often contrapuntal. I am pleased to present the first recordings of these works by this important composer.
Best known for his music for children’s concerts, Daniel Dorff’s works have been commissioned and performed nationwide, including by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch and the Minnesota Orchestra’s Kinder Konzert series. Dorff’s music has also been performed by the Baltimore Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Eastman Wind Ensemble, at chamber concerts of the St. Louis Symphony and Oregon Symphony, on the 1998 Chicago Symphony Radiothon, and by clarinetists John Bruce Yeh and Bil Jackson.
Daniel Dorff was born in New York in 1956; acclaim came early, winning First Prize in the Aspen Music Festival’s annual composers’ competition at age 18. Originally a saxophonist and rock musician, Dorff received degrees in composition from Cornell and Univ. of Pennsylvania, serving as a Teaching Fellow at Penn. His teachers included George Rochberg, George Crumb, Karel Husa, Richard Wernick, Ralph Shapey, Elie Siegmeister, and Henry Brant. He studied saxophone with Sigurd Rascher, clarinet with Gary Gray, and bass clarinet with Ronald Reuben. In 1996, Dorff was named Composer-In-Residence for the Haddonfield Symphony in which he has played bass clarinet since 1980.

Daniel Dorff provides these comments about his Pastorale (Souvenirs du Frög):
“When Theresa Scott asked me and James Primosch to perform at her wedding, we both knew we wanted to compose something new and special for the occasion.  We had all been music students at University of Pennsylvania together, and one of Theresa’s favorite pastimes was listening to Jim play piano at a restaurant/bar in Philadelphia called Frög.  The Frög was well-known for its pianists who were equally elegant in both classical and jazz performance.  In writing a piece for Theresa which I’d play with Jim, the idea of a Souvenirs du Frög, a hybrid of that locale’s flavors, seemed the perfect gift. Pastorale (Souvenirs Du Frög) is dedicated to Theresa Scott Bartmann and Michael Bartmann to celebrate their marriage on August 27, 1994; it was premiered at the wedding by Daniel Dorff (clarinet) and James Primosch (piano).”
Born in 1940, Edward Yadzinski studied under William R. Gasbarro at Wilkes College and Stanley Hasty at the Eastman School of Music. He joined the Buffalo Philharmonic as clarinetist, bass clarinetist and saxophonist in 1963 where his interest in new music continued under Lukas Foss, with whom he performed widely across the United States and Europe. As soloist and chamber player he has appeared at many venues including Tanglewood, Carnegie Recital Hall, Hertz Hall at UC-Berkeley, the Los Angeles County Art Museum, the Warsaw Autumn Festival and the Festival of American Music at Saint Paul-de-Vence, France. As a composer Yadzinski has scored a variety of chamber music, including several works for clarinet in various settings including A Paganini and Siréne for solo clarinet. His music is published by Alphonse Leduc, Paris and Plume d’Esprit, Amherst, New York.

Edward Yadzinski provides these comments about his Bartok Dances:
“Based on the well-known Roumanian Dances for piano of 1915, Yadzinski’s Bartok Dances was scored in 1996. With considerable digression from the original the new setting recasts harmonies, tempos and even the tunes to suit the sassy persona of the clarinet, including cryptic detunings, tender legatos and high-wire virtuosity. The work was written for Diana Haskell, former principal clarinetist of the Buffalo Philharmonic and now a clarinetist with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.”
The “cryptic detunings” referred to in Mr. Yadzinski’s note are accomplished by means of a mute inserted into the clarinet bell during the third movement (Stamping Dance). This provides an uneven muting of the tone of the instrument as well as changing the pitches of certain notes.

A further note on the Jettel Vier Konzert Etüden: The published edition is riddled with errors and misprints. We have made every effort to correct as many as possible. Some were very obvious: rhythmical misprints (resulting in bars with too many or too few beats), a misplaced first ending(!), missing tempo indications, etc. Notes, articulations and dynamics were more of a problem. There were several discrepancies of transposition from the full score to the clarinet in b-flat part. Mostly, the full score was taken to be correct, but in some cases the score was obviously wrong, which proved very frustrating. Grace notes were particularly haphazard in terms of their placement on the staff. We believe we have gotten very close to being correct in terms of notes. For articulations and dynamics, we tried for consistency of style where misprints were obvious and the solution unclear.

-- by David Hattner, (c) 2001

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