The Bremen Clarinet Quartet was founded in 1988, and has performed since 1993 with the present members. Through numerous concerts both at home and abroad the Quartet has gained the reputation of being an extraordinary chamber music ensemble. Thoughtfully planned programming, including serious, unusual, innovative and fun pieces, ranging from the familiar to the rare, reflects the quartet's aspiration to present music not only for tradition’s sake, but because it can speak to us today with an imaginative, enlivening voice.
We founded our ensemble in 1984 at the "Hochschule für Künste" in Bremen. Our first concert programs contained exclusively music of the 20th century, from neoclassical to modern. Despite efforts to program original and authentic music, it was not to be overlooked for long,
That the musical possibilities of the clarinet quartet were larger than the available literature.
Recognizing this, we took two steps in different directions.
We work and have worked together with composers, who have interest for our ensemble and who could enrich our repertoire with a few important works. The clarinet's flexibility and richness of expression have an indisputable appeal for modern composition. The acoustical possibilities of the different clarinets and their uniform sound allow a wide palette of new colors, which has still not been exhausted.
The other step leads us into the 18th century. As a wind ensemble we stand in the tradition of the "Divertimenti", the classical entertainment ensembles of Mozart's time. At that time it was absolutely usual to spread popular melodies and opera hits by way of chamber music. Mozart himself parodied this trend in the last scene of his opera "Don Giovanni" by having the "Divertimenti" on stage play excerpts from popular operas of the day, including one of his own very popular arias from "The Marriage of Figaro".
Such traditional arrangements are in the meantime a set part of our programs. But the possibilities go much further and since the clarinet itself comes from a time of experimentation, we are not afraid to experiment either. This means for example that we play Bach. Perhaps this is daring, but we select very carefully the pieces that not only fit our ensemble, but also ones which gain in charm by being played by clarinets. Four part piano fugues played by four truly independent voices can be a real eye (ear) opener. A simple chord becomes the meeting place of individual voices, polyphonic structures take on a very living tonality.
The practice of arrangement opens another door altogether, namely, in music of a nonclassical and entertaining nature. The artificial separation of serious and popular music (a division no composer has been able to maintain) has led to a layer of dust on the modern concert scene. Scholarly earnestness and reverent customs often block the direct contact between the listeners and the interpreters. This is why it is so important for us to play music that crosses borders. Music that not only is "serious" but entertaining. Or just plain entertaining.
And so we do not limit ourselves. From the "Comedian Harmonists" through Tango and Jazz to the Beatles, we play everything that is suitable for clarinet quartet. And there is a good reason for this, the motivating reason for our artistic activity:
Barbara Rößler, Studied with Professor H. Carstens and W. Hannak in Bremen and with Professor H. Palluschek in Hannover. Participated in international Master Classes. Active as a soloist and chamber musician, has played in symphonic and opera orchestras and made radio recordings. Freelance chamber musician and soloist.
Christian Dawid, Studied with W. Hannak in Bremen. Numerous international Master Classes. Has played in various chamber and opera orchestras. Active as Klezmer clarinetist as soloist and in various world-renown groups. Arranges music and writes pedagogical works. Chamber musician. http://www.christiandawid.com
Martin Kratzsch, Studied with Endre Homoki and Prof. H. Carstens in Bremen and with Prof. Romeo Tudorache in Cologne. Member of various international chamber music ensembles. Has made radio recordings and given Master Classes. Freelance soloist and chamber musician.
Bremen Clarinet Quartet
Foto: Manfred Pollert