Nineteenth-Century Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828) is renowned as one of the great masters of German Lieder, having composed over 600 works in the genre. His Die Forelle (“The Trout”), based on a poem by Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, tells the story of a clever and happy fish that is eventually caught by a duplicitous fisherman who muddies the water in order to trick the fish into being snared on his line. Schubert's playful accompanimental figures, originally set in the piano part, have long been interpreted as either the babbling of the brook or the gleeful swimming and leaping of the fish, and the sung melody has the natural strophic cadence of a folk song. It is only in the moment where the fisherman agitates the water and our protagonist fish is nearing his doom that we hear the harmony become darker and more complex; otherwise the material is bright, sunny, and full of playful chromaticism. This transcription for four clarinets employs a fluid exchange of the accompanimental motive across all four parts, and the original sung melody is also passed throughout the ensemble, allowing each player to have moments of both technical challenge and lyrical expressiveness.
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