bass clarinets in some places. [Bass Clarinet.] Spohr has written two concertos for the instrument, both—especially the second—of extreme difficulty. But he has utilised its great powers in concerted music, and as an obbligato accompaniment to the voice, both in his operatic works and his oratorios, and in the six songs of which the 'Bird and the Maiden' is the best known.
An account of this instrument would be incomplete without mention of Rossini's writings. In the 'Stabat Mater' he has given it some exquisite and appropriate passages, but in other works the difficulties assigned to it are all but insuperable. The overtures to 'Semiramide,' 'Otello,' and 'Gazza Ladra,' are all exceedingly open to this objection, and exhibit the carelessness of scoring which mars his incomparable gifts of melody.
No instrument has a greater scope in the form of solo or concerted music specially written for it. Much of this is not so well known in this country as it ought to be. The writer has therefore compiled, with the assistance of Mr. Leonard Beddome, whose collection of clarinet music is all but complete, a list of the principal compositions by great writers, in which it takes a prominent part. This is appended to the present notice.
A few words are required in concluding, as to the weak points of the instrument. It is singularly susceptible to atmospheric changes, and rises in pitch very considerably, indeed more than any other instrument, with warmth. It is therefore essential, after playing some time, to flatten the instrument; a caution often neglected. On the other hand it does not bear large alterations of pitch without becoming out of tune. In this respect it is the most difficult of all the orchestral instruments, and for this reason it ought undoubtedly to exercise the privilege now granted by ancient usage to the oboe; that, namely, of giving the pitch to the band. In the band of the Crystal Palace, and some others, this is now done; it deserves general imitation. Moreover, the use of three, or at least two different-pitched instruments in the orchestra, is a source of discord, which it requires large experience to counteract. Many performers meet the difficulty to some extent by dispensing with the C clarinet, the weakest of the three. Composers would do well to write as little for it as may be practicable. Mendelssohn, in his Symphonies, prefers to write for the A clarinet in three flats rather than for the C in its natural key, thus gaining a lower compass and more fulness of tone. Lastly, the whole beauty of the instrument depends on the management of the reed. A player, however able, is very much at the mercy of this part of the mechanism. A bad reed not only takes all quality away, but exposes its possessor to the utterance of the horrible shriek termed couac (i.e. 'quack') by the French, and 'a goose' in the vernacular. There is no instrument in which failure of lip or deranged keys produce so unmusical a result, or one so impossible to conceal; and proportionate care should be exercised in its prevention.
List of the principal solo and concerted music for the clarinet; original works, not arrangements.
Mozart.—Trio for clarinet, viola, and piano, op. 14; Two Serenades for two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons, op. 24 and 27; Quintet for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and piano, op. 29; Concerto for clarinet and orchestra, op. 107; Quintet for clarinet and strings, op. 101; Grand Serenade for two oboes, two clarinets, two bassethorns, two French horns, two bassoons and double bassoon.
Beethoven.—Three duets for clarinet and bassoon; Trio for clarinet, violoncello, and piano, op. 11; Quintet for oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and piano, op. 16; Grand Septet for violin, viola, cello, contra-basso, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, op. 20; the same arranged by composer as trio for clarinet, cello, and piano; Sestet for two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons, op. 71; Ottet for two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons, op. 103; Rondino for two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, and two bassoons.
Weber.—Concertino, op. 26; Air and Variation, op. 33; Quintet for clarinet and string quartet, op. 34; Concertante duet, clarinet and piano, op. 48; Concerto 1, with orchestra, op. 73; Concerto 2, with orchestra, op. 74.
Spohr.—Concerto 1, for clarinet and orchestra, op. 26; Concerto 2, for clarinet and orchestra, op. 57; Nonet for strings, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, op. 31; Ottet for violin, two violas, cello, basso, clarinet, and two horns, op. 32; Quintet for flute, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and piano, op. 52; Septet for piano, violin, cello, and same wind, op. 147; Six songs, with clarinet obbligato, op. 103.
Schumann.—Fantasiestucke for clarinet and piano, op. 73; Mährchenerzählungen, for clarinet, viola, and piano, op. 132.
Onslow.—Septet for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, double bass, and piano, op. 79; Nonet, for strings, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, op. 77; Sestet for piano, flute, clarinet, horn, bassoon, and double bass, op. 30.
Kalliwoda.—Variations with orchestra, op. 128.
A. Romberg.—Quintet for clarinet and strings, op. 57.
Hummel.—Military Septet, op. 114.
C. Kreutzer.—Trio for piano, clarinet, and bassoon, op. 43; Septet, for violin, viola, cello, contra-basso, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, op. 62.
S. Neukomm.—Quintet for clarinet and strings, op. 8.
A. Reicha.—Quintet for clarinet and strings; Twenty-four quintets for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, ops. 88–91, 99, 100.
E. Pauer. Quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn, and bassoon, op. 44.
Reissiger. Concertos, ops. 63a, 14b, 180.
[ W. H. S. ]