CD Information
Extended Clarinets
Featuring Roger Garrett with Colleagues and Friends
  1.     Roger Garrett -  Principal Clarinetist, Peoria Symphony Orchestra; Illinois Wesleyan University
  2.     John Bruce Yeh - Assistant Principal Clarinetist & Principal Eb Clarinetist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  3.     J. Lawrie Bloom - Clarinetist & Principal Bass Clarinetist, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  4.     Yoshinori Nakao - Principal Clarinetist, Oregon Sympony Orchestra
  5.     Todd Kuhns - 3rd Clarinetist & Principal Bass Clarinetist, Oregon Symphony Orchestra
  6.     Michael Anderson - Principal Clarinetist, Eugene Symphony Orchestra (Oregon)
  7.     Aris Chavez - Former 2nd Clarinetist, Santa Fe Opera Orchestra; Illinois State University (Emeritus)
  8.     Stan Stanford - Professor of Clarinet, Portland State University
  9.     Jennifer Nelson - Clarinet Instructor, University of Puget Sound; Clarinetist, Seattle Symphony Orchestra
  10.     Carolyn Arnquist - Clarinet Instructor, Lewis and Clark College; Principal Clarinetist, Columbia Orchestra (Oregon)
Program Notes
The last two hundred and fifty years have brought about many changes in the design, and, subsequently, the scope of musical capability of clarinetists. The evolution of the instrument, from the 5-keyed clarinet that was built during Mozart's time to the instruments available to clarinetists today, has resulted in a musical tool that is much more technically solvent and better in tune. Within the past twenty years however, a resurgence toward the performance of music on period instruments has occurred. When performing works of the 17th and 18th Century composers, Clarinetists entering the millennium must choose between presentations of these works with either instruments representative of the period or with the contemporary instruments common to today's clarinetists. The former choice is most definitely the more hazardous path; pitch problems aside, the instruments are simply horrendously difficult to manage technically. The clarinetists who specialize in performance on 5-key and 7-key clarinets are few in numbers yet record and perform frequently. For example, the Concerto for Clarinet, K.622 by Mozart is today performed by artists using modern basset clarinets (soprano clarinets pitched in the key of A with extensions to the low C below the standard E of the modern A clarinet) that were either built especially for them or have been purchased as a special order. Extended Clarinets! employs the use of the latter choice - modern instruments with full keywork and well-developed acoustical design. While the music written for basset horn on this volume is published for standard clarinets and ranges that avoid the lower extension mentioned for the basset clarinet, this recording realizes the full ranges originally desired by the composers. Alas, even with contemporary instrument, performance of the music available from Mozart's and Mendelssohn's time remains wickedly difficult!
Not only does this CD attempt to provide music that is rarely heard on other recordings, it also represents instruments that make up the bulk of the clarinet family, some of which have extended ranges; thus the title Extended Clarinets! The Mendelssohn Concertpieces make use of both the Bb soprano clarinet and the basset horn (pitched in the key of F) with it's low C extension. The 12 Variations, originally for piano and arranged for three Bb clarinets and Bb bass clarinet makes extensive use of the lower extension of the bass clarinet (which is really the tenor/baritone of the clarinet family) occupying the same range of the viola and cello. The St. Paul's Suite by Gustav Holst, originally for the medium of string orchestra and arranged for clarinet choir, not only uses two bass clarinets with low C extensions (to share viola duties with the 4th clarinet and cello duties with the second bass clarinet), it includes one of two true members of the bass clarinet family, the Eb Contra Alto Clarinet (the other member of the bass family, Bb Contra Bass Clarinet, is not included in this recording). Daniel Leeson's more complete description of the clarinet family will follow in his notes regarding the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847) Concertpieces for Clarinet, Basset Horn and Piano.
Mendelssohn Concertpieces Nos. 1 and 2 for Clarinet, Basset Horn and Piano
More than 150 years after his death, Heinrich Joseph Baermann (1784-1847) is still one of the most important and influential clarinet players who ever lived. He was not only a brilliant performer - as attested to by contemporary reports and as evidenced by compositions that Weber, Meyerbeer, and Mendelssohn wrote for him - he also trained his son, Carl Baermann (1810-1885), who became his musical successor, one of the finest clarinet teachers ever, and author of a six-volume clarinet method still considered essential to the study of the instrument. For a number of years, father Heinrich and son Carl played and toured together, performing many works written for and dedicated to the two of them, a pair of which, the Mendelssohn Concertpieces, are recorded here.
The clarinet family has the greatest number of members of any orchestra instrument. In addition to soprano clarinets of varying pitches (in F, G, A, B-flat, B-natural [obsolete], C, D, E-flat, and A-flat), other members include the alto, bass (in three different pitches), and contrabass clarinets. An additional member (in two different pitches), played only infrequently between Mozart's time and today, has the odd name of "basset horn," taken from the German for "little bass." The invention of the basset horn was the first attempt to create a bass voice for the clarinet family but acoustical difficulties resulted in limited success. Only the presence of some magnificent music that requires the instrument - the Mozart Requiem, for example - has sustained it for some two centuries, though recent technical improvements and its employment in significant compositions by Richard Strauss have caused a rebirth of the basset horn. It was the fact that Carl Baermann played basset horn (as well as bass clarinet) in what is today the Munich Philharmonic but was then, the Munich Court Orchestra (and before that the Mannheim Orchestra) which was the catalyst for the two Mendelssohn Concertpieces for clarinet, basset horn, and piano heard on this recording.
The works are exactly what one would expect of concertpieces; i.e., ebullient, tuneful, creative, and showy. Both works, cut from the same cloth, get the listener's attention at once with a rapid, stylish beginning. They then settle into a short, slow lyrical section and finally conclude in a blaze of pyrotechnics. Both works also may be played with orchestra accompaniment, one of which was created by Mendelssohn himself, and the other by the above-mentioned Carl Baermann.
Uhl Divertimento for Three Clarinets and Bass Clarinet
Alfred Uhl (1909-1993) was an Austrian composer who received his training from the Vienna State Academy of Music and subsequently went on to teach at the same institution. Uhl wrote extensively for the clarinet including his Konzertante Sinfonie for Clarinet and Orchestra and his very well-known pedagogical studies that include two volumes of etudes entitled 48 Studies for Clarinet. His Divertimento, written during the summer of 1942 for the clarinetists of the Vienna Philharmonic, employs the use of three Bb clarinets and a bass clarinet. A three movement work, the first is a highly engaging Allegro followed by an expressive and nostalgic Andante sostenuto concluding with an energetic and demanding Allegro con brio in which each instrument of the quartet has an equally difficult part. The Divertimento is one of the most frequently performed works for this medium.
Stadler Trios for Three Basset Horns
Mozart wrote his famous Concerto, K.622 for his friend Anton Stadler (1753-1812), who was a clarinet soloist of considerable stature in the late 16th century.. Indeed, not only did Stadler premier the K.622, he also presented the first performances of Mozart's Kegelstatt-Trio, K.498 and the Clarinet Quintet, K.581. The same year he played the Concerto, he presented the basset horn solos written for him in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. The basset horn, the lowest sounding instrument of the clarinet family during the late 1700's, ranked among the more popular clarinets written for by Mozart and his contemporaries. Anton Stadler's enjoyment of the instrument must have resulted in his composing of the 18 Trios, of which 6 are represented on this recording. The movements, rearranged in order, were grouped by the publisher, Edition Helbling, Innsbruck, in an effort to portray a homogenous series, in the divertimento style. The basset horns used in these delightful trios (and the Mendelssohn Concertpieces) are modern instruments with the same general bore characteristics that are part of the design of the basset horn's closest relative, the Eb Alto Clarinet. Not at all like the basset horns of Stadler's time, these instruments are modern in every way - complete with alternate keys, double octave mechanisms, vented low C's, larger bores, and larger mouthpiece and reed combinations than were used in Mozart's and Stadler's lifetimes.
Mozart Zwölf Variationen (12 Variations) for Three Clarinets and Bass Clarinet
In terms of gradation of affection that the Viennese public had for Mozart, they admired and enjoyed his performances on both piano and violin, they loved his compositions, but they went absolutely mad with devotion and admiration for his ability to improvise. That Mozart could take a simple tune and, without preparation of any kind, instantaneously create a complex series of spontaneous variations based on it, imaginative and complete in every melodic, harmonic, and compositional detail, and do so in such a seemingly effortless and technically brilliant fashion was the glory that the Viennese public wanted most to see and hear from him.
The variations on the then popular French air entitled "Les amours de Silvandre" (and known to Americans under the title "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star") may have been created spontaneously, and then, at a later time, written down. We don't know because the circumstances surrounding their composition is uncertain. But they are so remarkable a set of variations, requiring almost every type of pianistic skill including a display of a variety of keyboard touches, execution of scales, arpeggios, and ornaments, that they still remain to dazzle the listener in terms of what a remarkable voyage could be made from such a simple beginning. It could even be argued that these variations, thought to have been written down in either 1781 or 1782, were written for Mozart's piano pupils so as to instill in them the mechanical skills required of a keyboard performer. The arrangement of this work for a quartet of clarinets was done by Roger Garrett, Professor of Clarinet at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Holst St. Paul's Suite for Clarinet Choir
Gustav Holst (1874-1934), a pianist trained English composer of Swedish descent, was extremely prolific in his composition for several mediums including but not limited to works for standard, chamber and comic opera, chamber music, full orchestral suites (The Planets), choral works, and military band (Suites No. 1, No. 2 and the Prelude and Scherzo, Hammersmith). His frequently performed and recorded string orchestra work, St. Paul's Suite, was completed in 1912 for the orchestra of the St. Paul's Girls' School in Hammersmith, London, for which Holst was Director of Music. The St. Paul's Suite was completed in 1912, however, due to revisions, the score did not actually become published until 1922. The work is comprised of four movements: 1) Jig, depicting English fiddle dance tunes; 2) Ostinato, a whimsical melody set over a repeated melodic figure; 3) Intermezzo, displaying contrasting sections of slower and faster tempi; and finally 4) The Dargason, an English folk tune which employs the use of the familiar Greensleeves as a counter melody. Of the four movements, The Dargason was also used as the final movement for the very popular Second Suite in F for Military Band that Gustav Holst wrote in 1911.
This arrangement of St. Paul's Suite, completed by Roger Garrett during the fall of 1989 for the Illinois Wesleyan University Clarinet Choir and first performed that year with that ensemble, does not employ an exact transcription. That is, while the musical elements are all present, the key, while identical to the original score, is played on the transposing instruments of Bb and Eb instruments. Therefore, the entire arrangement sounds one full step lower than the original version for strings. This was done for several reasons, not the least being accessibility to easier key areas and more reachable ranges for the upper Bb clarinet parts. The arrangement allows for the soprano Eb clarinet and Bb contra bass clarinet but does not use either instrument on this recording.