Basset clarinet

Last updated

The basset clarinet is a clarinet similar to the usual soprano clarinet but longer and with additional keys to enable playing several additional lower notes. Typically a basset clarinet has keywork going to a low (written) C or B, [1] [2] as opposed to the standard clarinet's E or E.The basset clarinet is most commonly a transposing instrument in A, although basset clarinets in C and B and very seldom in G also exist. [3] The similarly named basset horn is also a clarinet with extended lower range, but is in a lower pitch (typically F); the basset horn predates, and undoubtedly inspired, the basset clarinet.

Contents

Basset clarinet
S+S basset cl.jpg
Modern basset clarinet with bell facing upwards (French system, made by Schwenk & Seggelke)
Woodwind musical instrument
Classification Aerophon, clarinet-family
Inventor(s)Theodor Lotz and others
Developedsince about 1770
Playing range
Range basset clarinet.png written
Sound Basset Clarinet A.jpg b cl. in A, playing
Related instruments
clarinet, alto clarinet, basset horn
Musicians
Sabine Meyer, Charles Neidich, Vlad Weverbergh, Sharon Kam, Martin Fröst, Shirley Brill
Builders
Schwenk & Seggelke, Herbert Wurlitzer, Leitner & Kraus, Buffet Crampon, Selmer Paris, Stephen Fox (clarinet maker), Backun Musical Services
Sketch of the basset clarinet by Anton Stadler (illustration on two program notes 1794) Programmzettel Stadler 1794, nur Klarinette.jpg
Sketch of the basset clarinet by Anton Stadler (illustration on two program notes 1794)
Leitner+Kraus 320.jpg
Left: normal clarinet; right: Basset clarinet, 18 cm longer (German system, made by Leitner & Kraus, both instruments also available as Reform Boehm clarinets)
Leitner+Kraus clarinetto di bassetto.jpg

History

The earliest surviving instruments in Paris and London museums date from 1770. The basset clarinet was most notably associated with the clarinet virtuoso Anton Stadler (1753–1812), a contemporary and good friend of Mozart. The instrument used by Stadler was invented and built by the Vienna K.K. court instrument maker Theodor Lotz around 1788. It has long been unclear how this instrument might have looked. In a library in Riga in 1992 programmes were found of concerts which Anton Stadler played there in 1794. Two of those programmes show an engraving of Stadler's instrument (see picture on the right). The term "basset clarinet" was in use by 1796, though it may originally have referred to the basset horn. [4]

Mozart wrote his Clarinet Quintet in A major, K.581 and Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K.622 for this instrument; the concerto is partly based on an earlier fragment of a Concerto for Basset Horn in G, K.584b. In his last opera La clemenza di Tito , Mozart assigned a basset clarinet in B in the aria Parto parto, ma tu ben mio, meco ritorna in pace by Sesto (mezzo-soprano) an outstanding solo role in an approximately 8-minute dialogue with the singer, the musical climax of this act, if not the whole opera.

Because Mozart's clarinet concerto is so important, the basset clarinet is quite an interesting instrument in spite of its small applicability. For the concerto the extension must be chromatic and the shape of the Viennese basset horn is not suitable for this.

Despite Stadler's advocacy the instrument did not become a regular member of the orchestra. During the 19th and early 20th centuries only a few basset clarinets were produced, for performances of Mozart pieces, and no further music was written for the instrument (see under External links: Mozarts`s lost clarinet). However, beginning in the mid 20th century, interest in performing on original instruments prompted the basset clarinet's revival. A few modern composers, among them Bill Sweeney, Harrison Birtwistle, Alan Ray Hacker, Hannes Pohlit and Franklin Stover, have written works featuring basset clarinet; Joan Tower's 1988 Clarinet Concerto is written to be played on either basset or standard clarinet. [5]

Construction

The construction of a modern basset clarinet can be rectlinear, like a normal clarinet (see the two photos below right). However, the clarinet can have a bell, which is slightly upwards and forwards aligned via an angled intermediate piece (see photo above in the infobox). Charles Neidich has had a basset clarinet with modern mechanics built by Schwenk & Seggelke, which, like the Stadler clarinet, has an angled barrel and as a bell has a "Liebesfuss", which he turns backwards, although one can turn it forward. The different types and directions of the bell have an influence on the sound.

Fingering of the basset tones

As noted above, a basset clarinet is most commonly an A-clarinet with an extension of a major third or perfect fourth down. In the case of historical instruments as well as those of the German system, the additional deep tones C, C sharp, D and E flat are fingered with the right thumb, likewise in the case of instruments of the French system made by German manufacturers (e.g. Herbert Wurlitzer and Leitner & Kraus), whereas the basset clarinets of the French system of other manufacturers (Buffet Crampon, France; Backun Musical Services, Canada) are equipped with two additional keys for both little fingers, with the exception of the Canadian manufacturer Stephen Fox, where both finger techniques are combined (the right thumb and the small left finger), see description and illustration. [6] The German manufacturer Schwenk & Seggelke offers, for basset clarinets with French system, optionally the thumb solution or a combination of both techniques (see the photos below).

S+S Bassett Daumenplatte.jpg
S+S Bassett Kombi (oben).jpg
S+S Bassett Kombi (unten).jpg
Fingering basset tones (Schwenk & Seggelke)


Makers

Some clarinet makers now produce basset clarinets, or extended lower joints which will convert a standard clarinet to a basset clarinet. Among makers of basset clarinets using the French (Boehm) system are Buffet Crampon, [7] [8] Stephen Fox (clarinet maker), Backun Musical Services, and Selmer. [9]

Some makers of both French and German (Oehler) systems: Herbert Wurlitzer, Schwenk & Seggelke and Leitner & Kraus. A maker of the German system only: Hüyng. [10] Makers of basset lower joints include Chadash [11] and Fox.


Performers

Sabine Meyer 4.jpg
Sabine Meyer

Classical clarinetists who have recorded albums using basset clarinet include Colin Lawson, David Shifrin, Antony Pay, Sabine Meyer, Kari Kriikku, Martin Fröst and Sharon Kam. The German clarinetist Theo Jörgensmann plays free jazz on a basset clarinet as does Los Angeles based performer Vinny Golia (who also uses the basset horn in his music). The British clarinetist Thea King recorded Mozart's Quintet and Concerto, both on the basset clarinet, for Hyperion Records, coupled together on one CD. Michael Collins, who studied with Thea King, has recorded the Mozart Concerto playing a basset clarinet (Deutsche Grammophon, along with a transcription for clarinet of Beethoven's Violin Concerto). With the North Carolina Symphony on April 10, 2008, Collins premiered Elena Kats-Chernin's Ornamental Air, which takes the form of a concerto for basset clarinet. Another British player, Joy Farrall, has also recorded Mozart's Concerto and Quintet (BMG and Meridian) using a basset clarinet, alongside the Kegelstatt Trio for clarinet, viola and piano. On period instruments, Jane Booth has recorded the Mozart Quintet with the Eybler Quartet (Analekta, 2010). Working in both practice and theory, Colin Lawson's celebrated recording of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto K. 622 with the Hanover Band for Nimbus, released in 1990, complements his Cambridge Handbook to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto published in 1996. [12]

The American clarinetist Charles Neidich, the Italian Luca Lucchetta, the Dutch Vlad Weverbergh and the Swedish Stefan Harg, all committed to historical performance practice, play Mozart on replicas of Stadler's basset clarinet (these may be seen and heard on YouTube). Also in performances of Mozart's opera La clemenza di Tito, the aria mentioned of Sesto Parto, ma tu ben mio increasingly uses the prescribed soloistically prominent basset clarinet in B instead of a normal clarinet, as well as in concert performances of this aria at the performances of the 2017 Opera in Salzburg and 2018 in Amsterdam with the German clarinetist Florian Schuele on stage.

Related Research Articles

Clarinet type of woodwind instrument

The clarinet is a family of woodwind instruments. It has a single-reed mouthpiece, a straight, cylindrical tube with an almost cylindrical bore, and a flared bell. A person who plays a clarinet is called a clarinetist.

Anton Paul Stadler was an Austrian clarinet and basset horn player for whom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote, amongst others, both his Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Concerto. Stadler's name is inextricably linked to Mozart's compositions for these two instruments.

Bass clarinet musical instrument of the clarinet family

The bass clarinet is a musical instrument of the clarinet family. Like the more common soprano B clarinet, it is usually pitched in B, but it plays notes an octave below the soprano B clarinet. Bass clarinets in other keys, notably C and A, also exist, but are very rare. Bass clarinets regularly perform in orchestras, wind ensembles/concert bands, occasionally in marching bands, and play an occasional solo role in contemporary music and jazz in particular.

Basset horn wind instrument of the clarinet family

The basset horn is a member of the clarinet family of musical instruments.

Clarinet Concerto (Mozart) Musical composition by Mozart

Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622, was written in October 1791 for the clarinetist Anton Stadler. It consists of three movements, in a fast–slow–fast succession:

Robert Levin (musicologist) American musician

Robert David Levin is an American classical pianist, musicologist and composer, and is the artistic director of the Sarasota Music Festival.

Buffet Crampon business

Buffet Crampon is a French manufacturer of woodwind musical instruments, including oboes, flutes, saxophones, english horns and bassoons; however, the company is perhaps most famous for their clarinets, as Buffet is the brand of choice for many professionals.

A-flat clarinet member of the clarinet family, smaller and sounding a perfect fourth higher than the E-flat clarinet

The A-flat clarinet is a member of the clarinet family, smaller and sounding a perfect fourth higher than the E clarinet. The A is rare, but even less common, obsolete instruments in high C, B, and A are listed by Shackleton. Some writers call the A and these other instruments octave clarinets, sopranino clarinets, or piccolo clarinets. The boundary between the octave and soprano clarinets is not well-defined, and the rare instruments in G and F might be considered as either. Shackleton, along with many early twentieth-century composers, uses the term "piccolo clarinet" to refer to the E and D clarinets as well. This designation is less common today, with the E and D instruments more usually designated soprano clarinets. The term "piccolo clarinet" is used by some recent music software for the A clarinet.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, was written in 1789 for the clarinetist Anton Stadler. A clarinet quintet is a work for one clarinet and a string quartet. Although originally written for basset clarinet, in contemporary performances it is usually played on a clarinet in A or B-flat for convenience's sake. It was Mozart's only completed clarinet quintet, and is one of the earliest and best-known works written especially for the instrument. It remains to this day one of the most admired of the composer's works. The quintet is sometimes referred to as the Stadler Quintet; Mozart so described it in a letter of April 1790. Mozart also wrote a trio for clarinet, viola and piano for Stadler, the so-called Kegelstatt Trio, in 1786.

Sabine Meyer German classical clarinetist

Sabine Meyer is a German classical clarinetist.

Stephen Fox is a clarinetist, saxophonist and clarinet maker based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.

Alan Ray Hacker was an English clarinetist, conductor, and music professor.

Ludmila Peterková is a Czech clarinetist.

Sharon Kam German clarinetist

Sharon Kam is a classical Israeli-German Solo-clarinetist. She won the ARD International Music Competition in 1992.

Wolfgang Meyer was a German clarinetist and professor of clarinet at the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe. He worked internationally as a soloist, in chamber music ensembles, and in jazz, with a repertoire from early music played on historical instruments to world premieres.

Reform Boehm system (clarinet)

The Boehm system is a fingering system for the flute and the clarinet, as a Reform Boehm system the corresponding handle system for the clarinet, connected to a clarinet body, which has a different inner bore than in the original Boehm clarinet, with the aim of producing a different sound character together with another mouthpiece.

Backun Musical Services Manufacturer of clarinets

Backun Musical Services Ltd. (BMS) is a Canadian manufacturer of clarinets in B and A and accessories, based in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Schwenk & Seggelke German clarinet manufacturer


Schwenk & Seggelke, is a German clarinet manufacturer based in Bamberg in the Bavarian Upper Franconia. The company manufactures clarinets according to the German handle system and the French system as well as in a combination of both systems, starting from the Boehm system. A specialty of the company is the reproduction of historical clarinets.

Annelien Van Wauwe Belgian clarinetist

Annelien Van Wauwe is a Belgian clarinetist who performs internationally as a soloist. She was educated by Sabine Meyer and other internationally known teachers. She has won numerous international competitions and performs with top international orchestras and as a sought-after soloist at international festivals, but is also active in chamber music with her own ensemble. Several works have been composed especially for her. She is also a principal teacher for historical and modern clarinet at the Royal Conservatory Antwerp.

References

  1. Fox, Stephen. "Basset clarinet and basset conversion". Stephen Fox Clarinets. Archived from the original on 2018-12-23.
  2. Rice, Albert R. (2016). "The Basset Clarinet: Instruments, Makers, and Patents". In Libin, L. (ed.). Instrumental odyssey: a tribute to Herbert Heyde. Hillsdale, New York: Pendragon Press. pp. 157–178. ISBN   978-1-57647-252-1. OCLC   932302591 . Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  3. Rice, Albert R. (2003). The clarinet in the classical period. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-534381-6. OCLC   57124590.
  4. Rice, Albert R. (2003). The clarinet in the classical period. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 72–73. ISBN   978-0-19-534381-6. OCLC   57124590.
  5. "Joan Tower – Concerto for Clarinet (1988)". Wise Music Classical. Archived from the original on 2018-10-11. Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  6. Fox, Stephen. "Basset clarinet, basset lower joint and conversion". Stephen Fox Clarinets. Archived from the original on 2007-01-14.
  7. "PRESTIGE Basset Clarinet in A BC 1223". Archived from the original on December 10, 2006.
  8. "Prestige Basset". Buffet Crampon. Archived from the original on 2019-09-26. Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  9. "Selmer Paris Clarinets". Selmer. Archived from the original on 2006-05-22. Retrieved 2006-11-22.
  10. "Meisterwerkstatt für Holzblasinstrumente". Harald Hüyng Düsseldorf (in German). Archived from the original on 2019-10-14.
  11. Chadash, Guy. "Basset A Extension and Bell". Chadash Clarinet. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2006-11-22.
  12. Colin Lawson, Mozart Clarinet Concerto (Cambridge Music Handbooks), ISBN   978-0521479295