This is a simple comparison – the famous opening clarinet glissando from George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. You’ll see from the score below that the music notation is a run up the scale, but the clarinetist makes the decision on the style of how he gets to the top note. At a certain point you don’t hear individual notes but a langorous slide up the scale. Here are two very different performances of the opening.
An exercise: It will be clear from listening that these versions are different from one another. But be specific about those differences. And express the differences in words. How are the slides different? Does the slide up the scale begin at the same point? Does one version push forward more than the other? Does one sound “straighter” than the other? See if you can spot five specific differences.
A hint: there’s something that’s very different about these two openings that doesn’t involve how the clarinet passage is performed. Can you hear what it is?
Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic
Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony