Arabesques, by Paul Jeanjean

Arabesque- a curly, ornate, geometrical pattern, sometimes flowery; a ballet pose of ornate grace.

A well chosen title, if not particularly original, for Paul Jeanjean's little ditty, and one of the more popular clarinet solos of all the literature.

I have recently discovered the joys, and also the challenges, of playing really slowly. When learning clarinet in Junior and High School, I hated slow movements, and would eagerly await the fast ones. In the band version of Tchaikovsky's 4th symphony, the last movement was my favorite. I still love it's frenetic energy.

I now also adore really slow, controlled phrasing in slow movements. I can thank Alessandro Siciliani for showing me how sensual a well-turned ultra-slow phrase can be.

So when I gave a little recital of French music last Spring, I took special attention to play much slower than I normally would been inclined to, especially on a recital filled with bravura type pieces. This may not sound that slow to you, but it felt deliberate to me.

Here is Arabesques.

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I was playing the Selmer, which I had gotten in the mail 2 days before this recital. (I was just beginning to find the pitch center of some notes, like throat tone A and high d) I can now hear what it can and cannot do in sound, but they made nuance and control much easier, an issue I still grapple with on my Buffets. The drama of clarinet choice continues...

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2 comments for “Arabesques, by Paul Jeanjean

  1. David Niethamer
    December 19, 2009 at

    > I was playing the Selmer, which I had gotten in the mail 2 days before this recital.

    I'm glad to see that someone else is a crazy as I am regarding new equipment. Just slap a reed on it and see what it will do!!!

    I'm sensing a Jeanjean obsession on this blog 😉

    • December 19, 2009 at

      David- You are just beginning to sense that?? One of my categories is \”Jeanjean Project\”, indicating my commitment to learn all 18 etudes before next October.

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