The notation, by Mozart of the Famous Trio with Viola, Clarinet and Piano is exact and repeated throughout the first movement until the concluding bars.The notation is in 6/8 time, marked Andante and has within the bar what is apparently a turn, written out and coming on the last half of the third and the 6th beat of the bar, throughout the movement. Yet,most every ensemble playing this piece will change the notation to that of a simple turn, which is alWays played in a most rubato fashion and never performed as written. If played as written the tempo implication is of a much slower tempo, indeed 6/8 in andante, at approximately at 72 mm for each eighth note. This implies three movements of different tempi, the first slow and stately, the second in a menuetto tempo, and the last in a moderate 4 beats to each bar.
without Mozarts notation and tempi,the works becomes three movements of medium tempi, the tempi being almost the same. So,on May 6, we played this beautiful trio with the corrct tempi. Who is the authority? Poor Mozart is the one and only , the composer.For those of you who may be contemplatin this work consider the implications of Mozarts notation.
As the years have past, I have noticed the clarinet in my hands, more and more. It became important as a youngster. In the US Army in the 50s, I used to spend many hours practicing in the basemant of the band rehearsal room, mostly long tones, mostly standing. One of the duty sargents came in one day a little “out of it” and asked me to show him my hands while I played. I did and he felt for the hardness above both thumbs which held the clarinet.
He said, “very good”, as he said it was important to develop those muscles and even more important to practice everything standing. I followed his advice and for many years played endlessly while standing. I learned to consider sitting and playing somewhat of a weakness, and never ever rested the clarinet on my knee while playing. (this actually changes the pitch of the middle B, as it wil alway be higher held off the knee) That was my thing , and I cannot remember ever feeing fatigue from playing standing.
As the years past I began to experience a slight pain in my left hand. This particular discomfort finally became painful enough to really get my attention. I found that I had what is known as DeQueurvains syndrome.(named after the surgeon who discovered it in 1895) Ilearned that there was a relatively simple procedure which would cure this really awful pain and tenderness. I saw a plastic surgeon at the Montreal General and he told me that for whatever reason , by making a small incision about an inch below the left thumb, almost painless, no anesthetic , a scar would be formed within, and as it healed, the scar tissue would provide enough room for the tendons to move freely. While it was a concern, all turned out quite well and as he said, “you are cured” and truly, I was. No more braces and straps to support my wrist, no more left hand blips. (there is one on one of my records, of the Brahms Trio, but only one.
So, life went on and I continued playing many many concerts in and around .
Then later, I started to have pain in my right hand. First, I started criticizing thumb rests, and I was quite critical of most of them, for they are not made for sore wrists. There is only one thumb rest which is ideal and that is the one on my Amati C Clarinet. It is perfect, located correctly and really quite helpful, but it wasn’t enough. I think I had the same condition in my right hand, and really did not feel like repeating the same procedure. Still there was a solution and that is the clarinet neck strap. Using that, with the Amati C clarinet and playing the C, which is smaller, weight is diverted from the right hand as you use the strap and it must be said that the Amati thumb rest with its angled strap attachment is very well thought out. This, I really recommend.. I have two Amatis, the C and a full boehm Bb, which is also excellent, thought much too heavy for me.
So last Sunday, we played the Mozart Trio K498, using the C clarinet. The part is almost as simple as is the Bb part, and the sound is superior, as is the tuning. Amati is a strangely unsung instrument, little advertised, perhaps even scorned by some, but they seem to know what they are doing. There is only one thmb rest which is ideal and that is the one on my Amati C Clarinet. It is perfect, located correctly and really quite helpful, but it wasn’t enough.As mentioned, I think Ihave the same condition in my right hand, and really do not feel like repeating the the same procedure. Still there was a solution and that is the clarinet neck strap. Using that, with the Amati C clarinet and playing the C, which is smaller, weight is diverted from the right hand as you use the strap, and removed from the right hand, resulting inmuch less strain and worry.
Amati is a strangely unsung instrument, little advertised, perhaps even scorned by some, but they seem to know what they are doing. Thank you, Amati, beautifully made in Czechoslovakia.
keep practicing. It’s never too late.
stay well, sherman