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Abstract

Lucas Randall presented a graduate clarinet recital on Friday, November 22, 2019 at eight o’clock in the evening in Davis Hall of the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center at the University of Northern Iowa. This recital, in collaboration with Dr. Robin Guy (piano) and Jarod Kral (bassoon), was given in partial fulfillment of the Master of Music degree. The program includes works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Leslie Bassett, and Robert Muczynski, representing a variety of styles and periods from the clarinet repertoire.

Ludwig van Beethoven - Three Duos for Clarinet and Bassoon, no. 1 (WoO 27)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is a household name and regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. Beethoven bridged the Classical and Romantic musical periods with his symphonies, sonatas, chamber music, and many other genres. The duos were written between 1810 and 1815, 1 around the same time as his seventh and eighth symphonies. The Heiligenstadt Testament written in 1802 was a large turning point in Beethoven’s career towards a certain severity of seriousness that led to the Romantic movement. In the middle of this shift, the duos remain staggeringly classical.

The first movement, “Allegro commodo,” is in sonata allegro form. With the exposition and recapitulation both separately repeated, the work is clearly classical. Everything about the duo makes it classical, from its simple harmonic structure to its predictable four bar phrasing. The harmonic content is limited to the tonic, pre-dominant, and dominant key areas.

The second movement, “Larghetto sostenuto,” is through composed with four sections. C minor pervades this movement which ends with a half cadence in G major with an attacca to the third movement back in C major. If the first movement puts the clarinet on display, the second puts the bassoon on display with scales, arpeggios, and multiple-octave leaps, while the clarinet stays comfortably in mostly scalar ideas.

The third movement, “Rondo allegretto,” returns to both the major key playfulness in the first movement and the minor espressivo of the second. The A section theme belongs exclusively to the clarinet, with the bassoon set to harmonically simple arpeggios. The B section passes the important line back and forth between the voices, leading to a transition from the A’ to a C minor C section. A DC al Fine brings the melody back to C major with the A section.

In general, the duo is less serious in tone compared to the works discussed later in this abstract. Beethoven highlights the quality of articulation that double reeds can attain with ease, making matching the articulations between bassoon and clarinet a significant difficulty in performance. The piece plays like a conversation between friends, with each part mutually beneficial, as there is no stagnant or dead space.

Johannes Brahms - Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in F minor (Op. 120)

Among Schubert, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Mahler, Johannes Brahms (1833- 1897) is one of the most celebrated and performed German Romantic composers. A well certified member of the Western musical canon, Brahms was seen by some as a progressive, and others as conservative. Brahms was a student of Robert Schumann and spent a lot of his time with Robert and Clara Schumann. In 1890, Brahms chose to retire 3 from composition after writing in most popular genres at the time (save for opera). In a letter to his friend Fritz Simrock, he wrote “With this scrap [I] bid farewell to notes of mine – because it really is time to stop.”2 Richard Mühlfeld would soon change that, however. Mühlfeld was principal clarinet in the Meiningen Orchestra and performed under Brahms in 1891 in the composer’s Symphony No. 4 in E minor. After a request for a private performance of Mozart and Weber, Brahms wrote to Clara Schumann, “It is impossible to play the clarinet better than Herr Mühlfeld does here.”3

Brahms composed both of his clarinet sonatas with Mühlfeld in mind in the summer of 1894. By February 1895, Brahms and Mühlfeld performed the sonatas about twenty times.4 “While the technical demands are moderate, a greater challenge is to perform [the F minor sonata] with control, finesse, tonal beauty, and an understanding of each movement’s construction.”5 This work should ideally be thought of as more of a duet than a clarinet sonata, as both instruments are equally important, rather than thinking of the piano as an accompanying instrument.

The first movement, “Allegro Appassionato,” is in sonata-allegro form. A short piano introduction finds its way to the exposition in the clarinet. The verticality of the exposition is deceiving, as the ease and flow of the piece are introduced in a technically progressive way. (See figure 1)

Year of Submission

2019

Degree Name

Master of Music

Department

School of Music

Comments

Due to copyright restrictions certain audio files may be limited in length of play.

Date Original

2019

Object Description

Dr. Amanda McCandless

Language

en

File Format

audio/mp4

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