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Historical and performance perspectives of clarinet material performed in a thesis recital Simon, Karem Joseph


This document is designed to accompany the writer's Lecture-Recital performed on June 6, 1983. It presents all the material from the lecture in a more detailed and extensive account. A discussion of clarinet solo material, representative of four periods and/or styles in the development of the clarinet repertoire, is featured: an unaccompanied twentieth-century work, Heinrich Sutermeister's Capriccio; an early classical concerto, Karl Stamitz's Concerto in E-flat Major; a French Conservatory Contest Piece, Charles Lefebvre's Fantaisie-Caprice; and a late romantic sonata, Johannes Brahms' Sonata in E-flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2. Sutermeister's Capriccio (1946), for A clarinet, was commissioned as a contest piece for the Geneva Conservatory. The composition is of a quality particularly suitable for a contest, for two contrasting ideas permeate the entire work: one is rough and crisp with staccato passages; the other is smooth and calm with legato passages. It is this writer's opinion that Capriccio reflects the influence of Sutermeister's cinematic works. Karl Stamitz's Concerto in E-flat reflects the features of the French school of clarinet playing as exhibited by the first well-known clarinet virtuoso, Joseph Beer. This concerto also shows the influence of Mozart, as many mutual features occur between Stamitz's Concerto in E-flat and Mozart's Concerto in A. Significant contributions to woodwind literature have been made by French composers. This is, in part, attributable to the Paris Conservatory, which since the late nineteenth century has commissioned French composers to write contest pieces for the final performance examinations. Such works have included Debussy's Première Rhapsodie, and Lefebvre's Fantaisie-Caprice. Johannes Brahms' fascination with Richard Mühlfeld, eminent clarinetist of the Meiningen Orchestra, manifests itself in four chamber works he wrote for the clarinet. Brahms' Clarinet Quintet Op. 115 is regarded as one of his greatest masterpieces. The Two Sonatas for Clarinet and Piano Op. 120 offer quite a contrast. The first, in F minor, is predominantly the more passionate of the two, whereas the second, in E-flat major, is of greater intimacy of expression.

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