election declared in Quebec, LOST within 20 minutes

April 8, 2014

get a pure and brilliant Libertas today. They have small stock of a lovely production, NOw.

stay well

It’s here: purity in Hard Rubber: LIBERTAS

April 3, 2014

I received the Libertas several days ago. It is a striking looking instrument, visually, because every set screw has been countersunk, and that is confounding for a clarinet made of ebonite. In our house, there are perhaps a dozen clarinets made from ebonite. There at least three Lyrique clarinets, an Allora A clarinet,purchased from WWBW back in the days when Larry Combs, formerly Principal in the Chicago Symphony, mentioned that, Prior to his OPUS, his former clarinet, “seemed like an unfinished instrument by comparison”.His former clarinet was a Buffet) At that time a recording by Eddie Daniels , The American Clarinet, was issued, partnered with Larry Combs. They played Opus and Concerto clarinets, designed by William Ridenour, and manufactured by Leblanc in Paris. I bought a set of Opus, and most of my recording were made on this set. The sessions for these recording were the most fun I have ever had playing, (The Brahms Quintet, first movement , is on this site, a live performance).

These clarinets became , by reputation, the finest clarinets ever made.
Yes, as with every superb clarinet I have played, I sold the set, They were replaced with The Lyrique, upon which I played until yesterday, with the arrival of my Libertas., which I’m told is a copy of the Concerto, in Hard Rubber.

Need I go further?

This winter has been a four letter word. And it is not over. It has been wonderful opening for the Libertas.

Articles will followi on tuning, price, longevity , and projection.

You already know about the price.

stay well.

fed up, exhausted , In rural New Zealand, and, a response

March 15, 2014

stalled out. I play old time jazz (favorite Albert Nicholas) and hassidic/klezmer wedding music (fantasize Dave Tarras, “the Jewish Benny Goodman”) on an unique antique Buffer C 2-ring Albert system, with Boehm style long keys. I’ve had it for 35+ years and love it. I am using a 15 year old Ralph Morgan C Clarinet mouthpiece, a new Van Doren ligature (replacing Eddie Daniels) and Legere 2-3/4 Signature reeds that could be past their prime. Plays best at about A=441.(response;comment. Ralph Nicholas seems to play more like Benny Goodman, and plays well, especially in the low register, where he emulates Goodmans use of triplets outlining chords(1900-1973)/ Listening to Dave Tarras is much more fascinating, since Tarras seems to be a clarinetist who needed work and drifted into Klezmer without too many chops for Clarinet, period. The clarinet played by Mr Mermin is interesting, but only in the sense of his love for it. The C clarinet muthpiece is nothing he needs and not neceesary to duplicate. It is the length and pitch of the horn, which can be played by any Bb clarinet mouthpiece, without much sacrifice. Nobody who plays C, plays a C mouthpiece. As far as a new mouthpiece for your clarinet, I cannot suggest any better maker than Richard Hawkins, of Oberlin College. Astonishingly consistent mouthpieces, very well made.

… So maybe this is time to revisit all of the pieces.(comment: how interesting that most of us come to this conclusion, which is usually overlooked because of an impending job or , “on second thought“, maybe not. But, in your case, you can certainly use a new horn, more contemporary, which would mean “better tuned”, and perhaps those long keys you talk about, have already mention Hawkins mouthpieces, and I repeats, a c clarinet mouthpiece is simply not needed. I play c clainet withmy regular Bb mouthpece, without any problem. Most do. And , do not cut the barrel short, which would mean a trip to tiger country, a dangerous place, probably, even more so in New Zealand.

The Van Doren metal ligature with it many twists and turn and plates, is too heavy for any clarinet. A virtual shtick drek, even in France, and it is too expensive, and it is too heavy, though you may like its looks. The Eddie Daniels ligature is a fabric version of the Van Doren, expensive, and gaudy with its gilt colors. I is virtually a copy of the Rovner, which, in its simplest form, is the best ligature for your instrument and your mouthpiece.

You ask if Legere reeds wear out. My problem is the opposite. They do neither. I have never found one that has been duplcated. Crazy for a synthetic reed, the best proberty of which should be its ability to play like the next. That, dear sir is what synthetic implies .hey cannot be duplicated,therefore they cannot be revived. Forestone comes much much closer.

The cost of any so-called synthetic reed is in itself punitive, therefore prohibitive the forestone reed plays for a long time, with no real change in the quality. It doesn’t matter what your age might be. 20 bucks or more for a synthetic reed is ridiculous. Of course, when you hear a fine players demonstrated on synthetic, it does sound well. But that player sound well all the time on cane or a bird or a plane.

The best new stick or clarinet for your is Ridenour, any of the variously available models./
. Very well made, inexpensive, and doesn’t break or crack, not even in NEW zealand.

beat of luck , always, sherman

Give me Libertas, or give me General Tao, if it’s on the lunch menu.”

March 4, 2014

Reading the latest news from the rubber world, we are told of the new Flagship Model of the Lyrique Clarinet, the Libertas, (with a bouncy rubber second syllable), and little else to distinguish it from the rest of the Chinese menu. Let’s see, pick one from column 1, and one from column 2, is what one is usually asked , and you get to choose either hot and sour or perhaps won-ton soup, a couple of rubbery egg rolls, and maybe some orange slices for dessert, oolong tea being an extra and served in a miniscule cup.
The whole thing will cost you but a fraction of the price of the French-fried version, if you don’t count the gaviscom. It is the best deal in the business and it has been since its inception.

Libertas was the Roman goddess of liberty, a personification of the political libertas that distinguished the free from the enslaved.

 There seem to be little or no difference between this new example of falling trill keys than the other falling trill keys. But, for a special feature, consider no serial number, which are placed only after careful matching has been facilitated. And the numbers are put on by hand, after scrupulous selection of matching hard rubbers. (Please, get serious)

Hard rubber, ebonite, happens to be a material famous for total consistency, if one believes the classy video , which is absolutely a true copy of the same description of the Allora, or the Lyrique, or any of the several different monickers these horns have been called. And it is quite common to call a clarinet a horn, perfectly proper, especially when speaking with others who play the same clarinet , or horn.

Without having one to try, one can say with total honesty, it has to be as close to any Lyrique clarinet as is possible.

The designer himself, told me that very little is changed to any clarinet from year to year, save maybe a piece of shiny metal, sloppily affixed to a chosen place on the first joint.

The hottest hood ornament for a clarinet actually came out with the Opus and Concerto models from Leblanc, an actually well-designed metal inlay. These actually had a bit of class, as did the horns themselves.

The rest of the markings on most clarinets are etched in and filled in with gold powder, which wears away with the years. If you were to actually apply the gold again, perhaps to make the clarinet look almost new, it always fails, looks messy and usually smears and adhers to the wood itself.

This Libertas has the usual adjustable thumb rest, which becomes more uncomfortable with each playing as you attempt to change the position of your thumb in relation to the clarinet. Changing the adjustment only works for a short time, as the thumb rest is too narrow.

If you really are an obsessive clarinetist, you will need to learn more about the thumb, thumb rests in general, and the best place for the thumb to hold the instrument. (Actually, Mr Ridenour makes the best thumb rest, “the thumb saddle”, and he told me himself, that “the thing is to change the position “, to anyplace else) I have several dozen, one for each thumb. I also have several neck straps, none of which work well, as well as the best way to play comfortably, which follows.

An uncomfortable thumb rest is a slippery slope which can ruin your playing by destroying your comfort, pleasure in playing music and holding the clarinet on this weakest point on the thumb. A properly shaped thumb rest has to wide enough to cushion as much of the thumb as is possible and then allow for moving from a (so-called) normal position. This normal position cannot be decided upon by designers, or is not considered important. The best one I have is the one on my Amati C clarinet. It really should be copied by other makers, or designers

However, by looking carefully, one can find many clarinetists who have experienced discomfort and have changed to a thumb rest which changes the support of the thumb from the weakest part , (the tip of the thumb) to the strongest, a distance of an inch or so, which immediately alleviates all such difficulties.

This so-called new model also presents a choice between a regularly shaped register key and the one I call nuts or ergonomic, (which means nothing).
Back to this many splendored hard rubber clarinet, it is the best tuned, most equally timbred instrument on the market and still costs very little. It is the best buy for the money and for the sound, without question. It also blends with chamber music as well as any instrument I have ever played.William Ridenour is the clarinet saver, and savior of the business. W hy? Because he can truly hear and his fingers know where to walk with his ears on the horn.

I understand they are going like hot cakes.

Great. Perhaps some day.
The thumb rest which will give you true comfort is made by Ton Koimann, and the cheap one is about 30 bucks. Others are much more, but have many different adjustments, making a lot of sense in this crazy crazy world of neurotics. It usually freaks one out when first seen, but feels so good if you use just one screw.

Stay well, and learn all Ravel.

Remember, if you buy your prodigy a horn from France, he or she will have given up the horn by the time you get through paying for it.(or switched to making a living.)

Also, sir, there will always be wooden flutes, they will never become extinct, nor will that thing you pay 5 grand for.


Boston:1960, even the cars were Selmer

February 25, 2014

Looking at the plethora of available clarinets these days, virtually everywhere, traveling back more than a half century, one is swept away by the changes that have taken place. Certainly in Boston, but everywhere else as well.
Boston, however was quite special, because all of the members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, at the time(and now), one of the more sophisticated ensembles, with then and still, the best Hall in the entire US: They all played Selmer Clarinets, and had for many years. The section was all Italian, or portuguese: Gino Cioffi had just arrived, to take the place of Victor Polatscek, a wonderful musician, and of the night

These were his b est years and the facility of the effortless sound in Symphony Hall charmed  the totally sold-out houses. Manuel Valerio, the diminutive second , who played on a Selmer A facing mouthpiece, with very hard reeds, had a gorgeous second. Pasquale Cardillo also played second as well as first in the Boston Pops, and Rosario Mazzeo , who also played a Selmer Bass Clarinet, and probably was the first player of the Bass who used a crystal bass clarinet mouthpiece. Mazzeo was also the personnel manager of the Orchestra, and had his office on the second floor , along with bis secretary, Peggy Burke, who compiled the program notes, who once threw me out of a rehearsal. Attending a rehearsal uninvited was forbidden: a union regulation, mostly because of the fact that if anyone attended the whole orchestra would have to be paid.

I had gone in to see Mazzeo, and tarried on the way up, standing in the back of the hall as they recorded widely spaced all over the audience ares, (the seats having been removed. I was an enthralled kid, lost in the sound, when I felt my ear being grabbed by Peggy Burke wno literally pulled me out into the hallway.
Back to the Selmer cclainet, the BSO clarinet section, and all of the many students of these players, all of whom played Selmer(Paris) clarinets.
The students all bought their horns at Rayburn Music, owned by Ray Sternburg, the son of Simon Sternburg, who was the snare drummer on the Boston Orchestra, also a chemist who made “Revelation Valve oil, which you could also get at Rayburns.
That was it, a virtual monopoly of Selmer clarinets, all the players and all of their student all played Selmer clarinets, without exception.
Yes, the Buffet clarinet was firmly ensconced in New York City, however the opinions of the boston gaggle of clarinet students was firm and unwaveringly Selmer, born and bred.
Of course,all of them used Van Doren Reeds, only Van Doren, which Rayburns also sold . They were 3.75 a box of 25 reeds, three or four of which played, the others saved for another try on a different day.
This was not yet the time of the forced purchase of Selmer mouthpiece and Van Dorens as well, if you were a dealer. The reeds became scarce and mouthpiece were sold to the dealers,on;y, if thyy bougt mouthpieces, as well.., the dealers were forced to buy mouthpieces.
If one was able to get to Paris, one could get to 56 Rue Lepic to the Van Doren place, and pick unmarked reeds for hours on end. When finished, they would mark the reeds and you paid a quater for each. Naturally, by the time you got home, they would not play.
One rainy afternoo, I was trying reeds without success, when Robert Van Doren came down to the room. He had a mouthpiece on each finger, which he offered me to try. They all plyed better than any Selmer mouthpiece I had, and I bought them all at some ridiculously low price.
I played them for years, losing them and finding them and ws alwaya happy with the VD mouthpiece, until I found my magic crystal, which is a whole other story.
All of these players stayed for many years in Boston, Cioffi, leaving when Eric Leinsdorf would no longer allow him to recorde with the BSO, an abysmal confrontation during a rehearsal..
When Cardillo retired , he was replaced by Peter Hadcock, an excellent player who had come from Eastman.Harold Wright also auditioned for second , won the audition, but refused because he wanted principal, which he got when Cioffi left, and then everything completely changed in Boston, and has remaind so changed to this very day.

Stay well, and learn Daphnes on whatever you choose to play

All the best, sherman

Minnesota problems in orchestra (NY Times 2/17)

February 17, 2014

Just over a month ago, on Jan. 14, the warring parties of the Minnesota Orchestra — management and musicians — agreed to a treaty, of sorts, though in some ways it seems more like a truce. The peace still feels all too tentative.

The settlement ended management’s 16-month lockout of the players, imposed in October 2012, when they refused to negotiate on a contract proposal calling for a 30 percent cut in their salaries, among other adverse changes. In the end, the players agreed to a three-year contract with a 15 percent reduction.

So the orchestra is back in business, having just finished its second weekend of concerts in a truncated season, and some things seem to be coming together, slowly. But what has yet to emerge is any solid word on whether Osmo Vanska will return, after resigning in frustration as music director of the orchestra in October, during the lockout.

Though Mr. Vanska continues to decline requests for formal interviews, he has — in stray, possibly counterproductive, comments relayed through various media outlets — strongly implied that he will return only if Michael Henson, the orchestra’s somewhat incendiary president and chief executive, leaves. Mr. Henson has given no sign that he will do so, saying instead that he will take the same 15 percent salary cut as the players.

Few would deny that Mr. Vanska worked wonders with the orchestra after his arrival in 2003, lifting it to the verge of the top rank in America, if it was not already there. The achievement was aptly symbolized by the orchestra’s Grammy nominations in each of the last two years, including a win at the awards show last month.

And most interested parties, it seems, want Mr. Vanska back. Certainly, the players do, even — especially, perhaps — if it means Mr. Henson’s departure.

In a round-table discussion with five of the musicians and this critic on Feb. 7, Blois Olson, the spokesman for the players (and yes, the players still retain their own publicist, refusing to use the orchestra’s), said of Mr. Henson: “The musicians have not swayed from their unanimous vote of no confidence in November 2012. You can’t be a leader if nobody’s going to follow.”

The players, he and they added, are equally unanimous in their wish for the return of Mr. Vanska.

Audiences, too, have been heard from.

Speaking onstage at the intermissions of the first concerts, on Feb. 7 and 8, Gordon Sprenger, the new board chairman, intended to be a calming force, responded to raucous cries from the audience for the return of Mr. Vanska. “We are addressing it,” he said to loud cheers one night, and “We are on top of it” the next.

But in a joint interview with Mr. Henson and another board member, Douglas Kelley, on Feb. 6, Mr. Sprenger spoke of a process, saying that he was “appointing a small group” to take up the issue of finding a music director, neither endorsing nor precluding the return of Mr. Vanska. By “it,” in those remarks from the stage, he was presumably referring to the process, not to any specific plan to bring Mr. Vanska back into the fold.

And there is other powerful support for Mr. Vanska. Those first two homecoming concerts, at the newly renovated Orchestra Hall, were led by its revered conductor laureate, the 90-year-old Stanislaw Skrowaczewski.

No one knows the orchestra better than Mr. Skrowaczewski, who was its music director from 1960 to 1979, has maintained his home in Minneapolis and has continued to conduct the orchestra often, even during the lockout, in the players’ self-produced concerts. In the homecoming concerts, he was working with a hastily assembled 89 players: 55 members of the orchestra (the others having been on leave or previously committed to play elsewhere) and 34 substitutes.

“It makes a completely different orchestra,” Mr. Skrowaczewski said in an interview after the dress rehearsal on Feb. 7. Asked whether there was a sufficient core of musicians to allow for recovery, he said: “I hope they will get Osmo Vanska immediately under contract. With Vanska there is a chance for rebuilding.” Mr. Skrowaczewski was essentially echoing what he had told the players onstage at the rehearsal, where his words met with obvious approval.

But what is remarkable in all of this is that there has been no particular show of urgency. It has only been a month, you might say. Or — the glass half-empty — a month has already passed.

“We are an artistic organization without artistic leadership,” said Timothy Zavadil, a clarinetist and chairman of the players’ negotiating committee.

The orchestra has not held auditions since July 2012. It has lost key players, whether because of the turmoil or not, and it could lose more. By the terms of the settlement, it will be adding seven players over the next three years to bring the total membership to 84.

The ensemble has also just moved back into a revamped hall and needs to adjust, corporately and individually, to altered acoustics. In all of this, a guiding hand and an experienced and empowered sensibility are needed.

It certainly seems that bringing Mr. Vanska back, if his demands are not unreasonable (and this outsider will not be the one to say whether jettisoning Mr. Henson would be reasonable), would go a long way toward rebuilding bridges to the players, to audiences and to, ahem, critics. The chemistry he obviously had with these musicians is rare, and some of them suggest that it could be even more potent if he were to return under these circumstances.

Despite the current euphoria at the orchestra’s sheer return, there are fences still to mend with audiences, donors and the public.

There is evidently some sense on the board that giving in to any of Mr. Vanska’s demands would be to grant him too much power within the organization, and that the board should not let itself be bullied. But is it possible that Mr. Vanska, a few rash comments aside, is taking just the sort of steps a music director should, to fill an artistic vacuum? And in any case, is this a time to stand on ceremony?

As it is, Mr. Vanska is scheduled to return as a guest in late March, conducting Sibelius’s First and Fourth Symphonies to celebrate the orchestra’s Grammy Award for its splendid Bis recording of those works. But now, at a time when other orchestras are announcing their 2014-15 seasons, the Minnesota Orchestra is still in the thick of planning its programs, and how do you do that without knowing whether you will even have a music director by then, let alone who it will be?

There are opportunities here for quick solutions. By definition, they won’t last long.

Your sound and how you speak with your sound, to the conductor

January 29, 2014

Concerning the embouchure for clarinetists, you will be the judge and the jury, and there is nobody else to advise you, or that can advise you. It is always the perception of the listener to your sound, his or her, or their reaction , which will determine everything in your musical world
The question as to embouchure, is however an interesting one because it concerns the most basic aspect to be considered by every clarinetist: the sound. And its perception by the listener

For the sake of careful consideration, what constitutes sound on the clarinet?

Answer? nothing. We never consider the quality of sound of a clarinetist, but , we consider always, what is it that actually reaches the listener? The reactions.The conductor Your teacher? Your friends? The others, those with whom you compete? For a job? Consideration? Interest of a possible future friend? or another person with whom to play chamber music?

We are concerned primarily as to the perception of the various listeners. What is their reaction to our playing?

I can remember vividly, coming into the Conservatory Cafetieria and hearing the other clarinet students. The whispers were horrible and frightening. “Mazzeo student” Bad sound” Thin sound” “Hi” or no look at all, which I considered to be very bad indeed. My god! What did they think of me? and basically, did it matter? Does it matter to you? I guess i am speaking basically to clarinet students enrolled in music schools. But, if you play in a band once a week, how are you given your seat? Your chair? And who decides?

One of the very first totally thrilling incidents I experienced was in the All New-England Band in 1951. The conductor of that festival was William Revelli, conductor of the University of Michigan Band and Music Program. Four of us from Brookline High was chosen to participate. It was very exciting, or unnerving. I was sitting in the long row of clarinet players and Mr Revelli went up and listened to each clarinet player play his tuning note, Bb concert. When he heard mine, he said “Take first Chair”…. Shocking , and the thrill of my lifetime.
The most important thing in your musical life is how people react to your sound. The boost and encouragement I got from Revelli has lasted until this very day.
IT’s not about embouchure, reeds, clarinets, or moutpieces, or even ligatures. It is almost only about how your sound is perceived by those who are to judge you.

How do you get the job? What does a conductor listen for? How does he or she judge? How does anyone judge? Including you, yourself?

I once auditioned for the late Max Rudolf. He was the conductor of the Cincinnatti Symphony and the Metropolitain Opera. . His had a distinguished and long career . He had me play the clarinet solo in the slow movement of the Beethoven 4th Symphony. It turned into somewhat of a pleasant discussion. It was mostly about where would I take a breath, and I cannot remember the salient points, save for the fact that he was interested in how I conceived the solo, my understanding of the dynamics:their range, and where and how I would breathe. I could tell he was interested, that there was something , perhaps unusual, or special in my conception of this great work, that was of interest. He seemed a very sincere and honest man, and certainly, I was in awe of him. He then asked me to play the rapid articulation in the Overture to William Tell. At that time, I could not double toungue , but was able to play it at a reasonably allegro tempo. He then talked about his conducting and with whom he had been very impressed as a conductor. I was not pleased because it turned out to be Stanley Drucker, the long time Principal of the New York Philharmonic. At that time I did not know Drucker, but of course, was terribly envious of his position.

What Mr Rudolf said about Stanley Drucker was new and different . I had never heard a conductors perception of a player He told me that , when conducting the New York Philharmonic, it was actually possible for him, the conductor , to improvise in his conducting, and that Drucker could follow his improvising. Now , this was the most important thing I took away from that audition. It was Stanley Druckers ability to pick up even the faintest change in the baton technic or in the eyes of the conductor, while playing solo clarinet.

Unbelievable, and it has stayed with me forever. That audition was worth a lot . I had been just a dumb clarinetist . prior to Max Rudolf. I have never forgotten his comments and of course, changed my opinion, my clarinetists opinion, of Stanley Drucker. I had never cared for his sound, or his embouchure, or how he blended with the other woodwinds and his tuning in the orchestra. But, Stanley Drucker was the most consistent principal player of any orchestra, and certainly had the longest tenure.

I had never thought of the interaction tnat takes place between a soloist within the wind section and the conductor during the very crucial time of live performance. how you are perceived by those who listen to you, is crucial. That first impresson can hold the key to your entire future as a clarinetist. Certainly it became my most important consideration.

Everyone plays well, but it is the one who listens and judges who is most important. Something to remember.

keep practicing, and listening.



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