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Chamber instrumentation

 
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mkemp
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

does anyone know of a piece of Sibelius chamber music involving, among other instruments, horn and bass clarinet? I remember seeing a score years ago in the old Westminster music library and am trying to trace it.

Martin Kemp

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2007 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm afraid there is no such piece - at least not among the original compositions. Maybe it was a third-party arrangement. Apart from the few pieces for brass ensemble, there are no surviving chamber works for wind instruments.

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Kurkikohtaus
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, mkemp and welcome to the forum.

A little off-topic, but branching off from where you mention the bass-clarinet... Sibelius used the unique colour of the bass-clarinet in several of his tone poems, often in parallel (multiple) octaves with the piccolo.

3 example that come to mind are:
  1. Luonnotar, a haunting little motive...
  2. Tapiola, wind whistling through the treetops
  3. Night Ride and Sunrise, an especially good example (reh. #20 and #23)... the winds begin a very Sibelian melody over the galloping string figures, but only the bass clarinet finishes the line while the other winds hold sustained notes.

So if you're a big fan of the instrument, have a listen to these pieces!

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And lets not forget that Sib included the bass-clarinet in his Sixth Symphony.--kullervopete.

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mkemp
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and there's that brief but prominent moment in the Swan of Tuonela.........

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 12:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that Pohjola's Daughter is another example, Sibelius was certainly fond of this instrument. I was surprised recently to learn that in Colin Davies recording of Nightride and Sunrise, the Piccolo writing which Sibelius uses in the bottom register of the instrument and which according to the maestro is hardly audible and often only doubles the bass clarinet, was put up an octave so that it could be heard. But surely Sibelius knew what he was doing when he scored the piece.--kullervopete.

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Last edited by kullervopete on Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I agree absolutely. I don't think it is the conductor's job to tinker with the scoring of a piece. With a composer of Sibelius's stature it's actually quite an insult. And I'm surprised that such an experienced Sibelian as Sir Colin couldn't find a way to play the notes as written and still make it effective.

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very true, but Sir Colin sadly is not alone.
Neeme Jarvi played the first violin part an octave higher than Sibelius had written in the Finale of the first Symphony [letter R-S in the score]
Paavo Berglund who has perhaps studied Sibelius's scores has much as anyone actually omitts a passage from [letter D in the score] from Lemminkainen's Return in his Philharmonia recording. And yet in his earlier Bournmouth recording it is complete.
Conductors should not take licence with these scores, Sibelius knew what he was doing.--kullervopete.

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are right, and the examples you mention have long annoyed me!
I once asked PB to explain the cut in Lemminkäinen’s Return; the best excuse he could come up with was that he preferred it that way.

Then it comes to recordings a related issue, but perhaps more forgivable, is when the score itself contains ossia. So while I don’t condone Anthony Collins (LSO) and Paul Kletzki (Philharmonia Orchestra) making two small cuts in the finale of No. 3, at least there is a nominal justification for it. Likewise Flagstad singing the top note in Höstkväll a third lower than written. Still, in a recording situation where retakes are possible, you’d have thought that artists of this calibre would have gone the last mile.

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mkemp
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have found the chamber work asked for in my very first posting. It is the Canzonetta op 62a for clarinet bass clarinet and 4 horns! But in fact, as somebody suggested, arranged by a third party- Stravinsky. Probably not often played becasue of the number of horns.

Martin

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes Martin, Stravinsky admired Sibelius's Canzonetta for strings from the incidental music to Kuolema and in 1963 when he was awarded the international Sibelius prize he transcribed the piece for the chamber combination that you mention.
Stravinsky remarked 'I like that kind of Italianate melody gone north. Tchaikovsky did too, of course, and through him the taste became an important and attractive part of St Petersburg culture'.
It is clear that both Sibelius and Stravinsky had a genuine respect for each others music, but for many years some critics used one composer as a stick with which to beat the other and this practise does no favours to either composer. Even the two masters were not adverse to a bit of jibing. Sibelius once wrote on a scrap of paper dated 20th November 1949 :'Mr Stravinsky says that my craftsmanship is poor. That I take to be the greatest compliment I have had in the whole of my long life!'
'A thousand lakes dont make a Symphony' remarked Stravinsky rather peevishly and Sibelius countered 'Technique in music is not learned in school from blackboards and easels. In that repect Mr I. S. is at the top of the class. But when one compares my symphonies with his stillborn affectations...!
Anyway Stravinsky did conduct a number of Sibelius's works during his visit to Helsinki in 1961 and payed a visit to Ainola, where he laid a wreath on Sibelius's grave.
Has anyone heard the Canzonetta in Stravinsky's arrangement.--kullervopete.

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Andrew B
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes - Avanti! conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste on BIS-CD-292.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andrew, I was wondering if you might give me some idea as to the success or otherwise of Stravinsky's arrangement. Does it sound more Stravinsky than Sibelius or perhaps a little of both? I will certainly seek out the recording.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another belated remark - To my ears it´s 95% Sibelius and 5 % Stravinsky due to the instrumentation. Sometimes the "best-of-both-worlds"- approach may be fruitful, but in this case it doesn´t really work well together, nor fish, nor flesh.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with inthepast. The arrangement is a curiosity, really. But it's such a fine piece that I can forgive it almost anything (EXCEPT being played too fast!).
Another recording is now available, also on BIS:
BIS-1874 SACD - Bergen PO / Litton
coupled with the Firebird and arrangements by Stravinsky of works by various composers

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