<Performance: First Movement>
Hello I am Professor Fatma Daglar. I teach here at Towson University. I am going to talk to you today about the Divertimento for Flute, Oboe, and Clarinet by English Composer Malcolm Arnold. This piece was written in 1952.
I'm going to start by talking to you about the first movement. The clarinet starts this movement and the oboe takes over the melody from the clarinet. Now, for this to be seamless and almost imperceptible, for thee handing over to be smooth, I try to make myself sound more like a clarinet. Try thinking of a less focused sound and perhaps not having as much of the higher partials in your tone. That might blend into the clarinet sound in the oboe entrance. This way the melody can continue without as big a change in the timbre until the ear picks up the fact there here is the oboe playing.
Here is the oboe entrance.
<Demonstration of the opening oboe entrance>
Now as you notice here with the melody that begins at letter A, the 4/4 is there to help you count, but not to necessarily dictate the metric structure of the melody.
Here it is with a conducting pattern of 4/4.
<Demonstration with singing and conducting in 4/4>
As you notice the bar lines here actually blur the hidden rhythmic pattern. Here is a second way of thinking of it. This way you will notice that I am bringing out the hemiolas that are highlighted by the accents.
<Demonstration with singing and conducting with hemiolas>
So bringing out the hemiolas, observing other interesting rhythmic variations where ever they might appear; I would recommend that we do more of that. Keeping that in mind, let’s have the trio play the entire opening.
<Trio performance of the opening>
Now at letter B, there is no indication to play this any softer, but this is where the flute and the clarinet play the melody and the oboe part is clearly accompanimental. So let's go ahead and get out of the way of the melody and play this quite softer.
<Demonstration at letter B>
As you notice, I'm taking forked F's. This is a good place to take those forked F's that a lot of times we try to avoid. There are fewer fingers involved than taking left hand F's, which you may be tempted to do. It's less bumpy and it goes by fast. This is one of those placed that I would definitely recommend taking the forked F.
Here is the passage in the first movement at Letter B with forked Fs, a little bit slower.
<Demonstration at letter B with forked Fs>
Now if you wanted to the same passage with left hand Fs, it is still possible but I think a little bit more labored.
<Demonstration at letter B with left hand Fs>
There is a similar passage later on in the piece, in the fifth movement, where the same thing applies. I would take forked Fs at letter E in the fifth movement.
<Demonstration at letter E with forked Fs>
Here it is again, slower.
<Demonstration at letter E with forked Fs>
Going back to the first movement, the ending is quite similar to the beginning but softer, as if it's the same music being played at a distance. So do not let go of the energy just because it is soft. I would maintain that same fast vibrato on accented notes but just keep it quiet.
I would also embrace the humor at the end where the oboe stops abruptly but the flute and clarinet hold out a little longer. It's very lighthearted. It is a divertimento after all, more to be consumed as a piece of entertainment rather than something that has deep intellectual value.
<Demonstration of the ending>
I do want to talk a little about the fourth movement, where the oboe gets a beautiful melody. Compared to the humor and very colorful writing in the fast movements, we have a tune here that is perhaps a little sad, a little melancholy.
<Demonstration of the oboe melody in the fourth movement>
The melody is very simple, very vocal. The range is within an octave, so it's very much like a folk melody. Now Malcolm Arnold was inspired by English, Irish and Scottish (folk) music, so there are a lot of those elements in his writing. You can let the melody get expressive especially when it reaches the highest note in the second bar of C, the high A. But other than that, I would overall keep it pretty simple and plain. Let's listen to the Trio play a portion of it.
<Trio performance of the beginning of the fourth movement>
Thank you for watching and happy practicing!