Leading up to our October concert Schumann’s Reawakened Masterpieces, we talked to clarinetist Thomas Carroll about his unique instruments:
“I’m thrilled to be joining Philharmonia for this upcoming program of Bach and Robert Schumann. One of the things that always excites me about performing music of the mid-19th century on period instruments, in particular Schumann, is the genuine sense of transition in compositional technique, a nod to the composers of the past while obliterating the classical and early romantic sense of form and proportion and experimenting with a truly new compositional aesthetic. Though Schumann was an extremely accomplished composer at the keyboard, he came to writing symphonic repertoire late in life, and his treatment of the individual instruments is rather “unconventional” at times, relative to the time period. One can almost hear the lines more as piano parts than instrumental. This is perhaps most evident in the wind and brass instruments, which are increasingly pushed right up to or beyond the limits of what was “possible,” on earlier classical instruments, giving us a chance to perform on later instruments than we normally would. Contrary to popular belief, more keys on mid-century woodwind instruments did not actually make everything easier to play, so in many cases, the extra ‘hardware’ presents another fun challenge for us!