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Karl-Heinz Steffens: Bernstein - Clarinet sonata - I. Grazioso

BERNSTEIN, Leonard

Sonata for clarinet and piano

I. Grazioso

 

Karl-Heinz Steffens, guest professor

Irvin Venys, student

Ofelia Montalván, accompanying pianist

 

Prof. Steffens begins his lecture pointing out the character for this movement and the suitable phrasing to get this “Grazioso” character, almost in one. After some more brief comments about phrasing, he suggests playing a passage with more vibrato to turn it into a more exciting one. Steffens associates a specific piano part to the Aaron Copland style or even Hindemith, and the period when Bernstein composed this piece which is aligned with West Side Story. Then prof. Steffens makes some comments on rapport (like a duet), phrasing and articulation.
Afterwards, it is advisable to play a certain passage with another color in the low notes to get the required seriousness for this moment. They make more comments on Leonard Bernstein and his preference for harmonic transitions: the student should entertain himself and underline more these points (a small crescendo in the long note of the phrase could help to get this).
Finally, the professor highlights the relevance of the rapport between piano and clarinet.