Whilst it may appear to have been quiet lately on the B&B blog, it certainly hasn't been quiet with B&B in general!
We spent the first week of April in the Shropshire town of Ludlow. Renowned today as a destination for foodies, Ludlow is the perfect place for B&B history geeks - Prince Arthur (the Tudor, 1486–1502, not the Galfridian one) lived their with his wife, Catherine of Aragon. Had Arthur not died, aged 15, in Ludlow (yes, they married them young in those days) his brother, Henry, would not have become king. It's an interesting thought what might have happened had we had a King Arthur rather than a King Henry...
Whilst B&B did enjoy the food and drink Ludlow had to offer (we couldn't not have the Faggots at The Blue Boar could we? The Wheatsheaf Inn was fantastic and the Thai Box Take Away and the Wonder House Chinese were perfect when the group was working late and just needed to EAT), the main reason we were there was to record our first disc. The peace and quiet (and the absence of any particularly good wifi signal, thanks again to the nearby Blue Boar for being our saviour when needed!) meant that we had the most perfect environment to work on this new recording.
The new disc features a fascinating collection of pieces composed by Stamitz, Tausch, Crusell and Baermann. For most people reading this blog the names of Stamitz and Crusell may ring bells, the later especially for clarinet aficionados. Baermann also might be familiar to anyone who has taken ABRSM clarinet exams. But Tausch? Where does he fit in?
Let's start at the beginning - the Stamitz quartets (for two clarinets and two horns) were published in Valentin Roesers 1762 Essai d’Instruction: A l’usage de ceux qui composent pour la clarinette et le cor. Stamitz was one of the first composers to explore these instruments, he was also hugely influential in the development of the Classical style and is considered to be the founder of the Mannheim school of musicians. As B&B clarinetist Emily Worthington explains
"The Mannheim orchestra was hailed as the finest in Europe during the second half of the 18th century, and one musician who received his training there was the young Franz Tausch. Tausch learned the clarinet from his father and followed him into the orchestra, becoming a full member at the age of 14. He moved with the Mannheim court to Munich in 1778, where he remained until invited to join the service of the Prussian court in Berlin, where he remained until his death. Though not a prolific composer, Tausch left a number of works for winds which are both gems in their own right and provide an important link between the Mannheim tradition and the wind chamber music of the early 19th century".
Tausch became a hugely important and influential teacher and his pupils include many of the leading clarinetists of the early 19th century. clarinet teacher whose pupils included some of the most important clarinettists in Europe such as Bernhard Henrik Crusell and Heinrich Baermann.
The new disc includes the first aforementioned Stamitz quartets, the complete Tausch XIII Morceaux for two clarinets, horn and bassoon, the Crusell Concert Trio (or Pot-Pouri) for clarinet, horn and bassoon and a brand spanking new version for two clarinets, two horns and bassoon of the Baermann Adagio from his Quintet for Strings by B&B's very own Robert Percival.
Having spent an enjoyable few days recording this music B&B then travelled to Huddersfield to perform this repertoire as the launch of HIP Happening 2, an event organised under the auspices of the Huddersfield Centre for Performance Research (HuCPeR), as part of Sound.Vision.Place, the cultural programme of the School of Music, Humanities and Media. This concert wasn't only about historical music, our horn player, Anneke Scott performed John Croft's 2010 composition "...une autre voix qui chante...:"
Here's B&B's Emily Worthington explaining a bit more about what we were going to do in Huddersfield: