Basset Horn


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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Basset Horn

 

alto clarinet.

At the end of the 18th century the basset horn consisted of two straight sections arranged at an angle, a mouthpiece with a single reed, and a bell. The modern basset horn is similar to a bass clarinet but smaller. Its timbre is soft, deep, and somber. During the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century it was used as a solo instrument and in the orchestra. Since the second half of the 19th century the basset horn has seldom been used.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Divertimento III from Five Divertimenti for Three Basset Horns, K.
439b are from five sets of pieces for three basset horns, supposedly inspired by his friend clarinetist Anton Stadler, and which Mozart himself apparently transcribed for several additional combinations (see KV.
Horn; also basset horn, 2 mat sound an octave higher trumpet?
These are new delights--period basset horns, glockenspiel, trombones and (magic?) flute--but these do not amount to a sonorous and stylistic revelation of the kind we used to receive ten years ago.
The Lichfield Garrick hosts Sinfonia VIVA in wind chamber music by Mozart, a Divertimento for three basset horns preceding the masterly Gran Partita in B-flat for 13 instruments, K361 (3pm).
Nicholas Cox (who can be heard in the Mozart Clarinet Quintet on February 21, later led a trio of players on basset horns, now rarely featured but said to be Mozart's favourite instrument.
"Also featuring quite prominently is a pair of basset horns, a cross between a clarinet and a bass clarinet, an extraordinary instrument which I have never written for before."
But heat doesn't suit basset horns, and took its toll in the form of persistently sticking pads and some wayward tuning.
These lengthened clarinets (for that's essentially what they are) also produce a surprisingly small sound, much less resonant than the modern alto clarinet, and Saturday's careful reading of Mozart's Divertimento No.1 for 3 basset horns most definitely emphasized its elegant, chamber-like qualities rather than anything more vigorous.