1.2 Methods - Clarinet Music from Russia and the Soviet Union 1917-1991
In order to enlighten my methods, I here include a concise description of my personal approach and how I engage with research through my artistic practice. My research process requires multifaceted approaches and skills, always conducted from a performer’s perspective, just as the above-mentioned performers-researchers have done. My point of view as a performing clarinetist influences the entire research process, from the acquisition of the information and material, in particular the scores, to the performance of the composition, to the reflection and analysis that I convey through the performance. The research process can be divided into different stages, each of which requires specific methods and competences. However, these stages cannot be disconnected from each other, as they are inseparably interwoven throughout the entire research process. They do not necessarily take place in the same order or in any discernible hierarchy. Taken together, these various stages form my personal approach to this research, through my perspective as a performing clarinetist.
The different stages can be described thus: Gaining information on what has been composed for the clarinet; Locating the sheet music (if available); Contextualizing the composition; Selecting pieces for a concert concept; Analysing the work within various parameters; Practicing alone and rehearsing in ensemble; Performing on stage; Reflecting and drawing conclusions.
The first task is to obtain information on what has been composed for the clarinet
during the period of the former Soviet Union. As there is no comprehensive repertoire list or any specialized catalogue about this topic, I have consulted various sources to find out which composers wrote works for the clarinet. Among these sources are composer biographies and work listings, repertoire bibliographies, musical encyclopaedias, library and archive catalogues, music publisher catalogues, discographies and general literature on Soviet music history (see Chapter 1.1 and Bibliography). All relevant results of this search for material have been included in the database (see Part three). The next step is to locate the sheet music if at all possible. Especially important here are the libraries and archives in Moscow and St Petersburg that I have consulted.
I have also contextualized the compositions within the historical frame and musical style of the time period, pointing out general lines in the development of the clarinet repertoire from this field. However, I have individually contextualized each composition, using my own personal reference frame of the clarinet repertoire in general, as well as other musical genres such as symphonic works. The next phase deals with organizing the composition into a meaningful and musically coherent concert programme. For the concepts of my five doctoral concerts, I applied several criteria: in each of the concerts, works for clarinet solo, works for clarinet with piano accompaniment and chamber music with clarinet are present. Moreover, each concert contains works from different time periods and stylistic directions. Also, the aspect of “playability” – for me and the other performers – is taken into account. Possible audience perceptions are also considered: what is engaging to listen to; how do we maintain the interest of the audience throughout the entire concert; which works fit well with each other; etc. (see Chapter 2).
Furthermore, I analyse a particular composition within the reference frame of other clarinet compositions from that same time period: both stylistically, from the perspective of clarinet technique, as well as examining the potential for performance. For many of the works from this field, there is no (active) performance tradition existing, which creates special challenges for the performer: I have to rely on my own musical reference frame based on my experience and competence as a clarinetist. During the process of rehearsing, I am paying special attention to bodily and mental experiences while playing. I am also examining how a work is idiomatically composed for the clarinet. Only after having performed a particular work in a concert does it feel “my own”, in the sense that my relationship to the work has changed essentially. I am gaining particular information which becomes my personal, silent knowledge through the performance in combination with all of the phases described before: this describes in short my personal approach to a performer’s analysis of Soviet clarinet music.