The Clarinet in C, a wonderful experience

I have often thought that certainly I had played every conceivable clarinet in the family in many different works. Lets see, there is the truly wonderful and difficult Quintet by Hindemith for String Qurtet, Clarinet, and in the second movement Eb clarinet. I have recorded that concert. Then of course, there is Pierrot Lunaire with the clarinet and Bass Clarinet part, and of course the many works with Eb and bass that are within the chamber music repertoire. But I had never played the C clarinet. Why? Because I was taught and have taught everyone to know how to transpose the C part, an easy transposition to the clarinet in Bb, and have performed more Baroque works, using either flute or violin parts on many concerts, even reading the part at a live recording.As far as the Berlioz C clarinet, it was always trnasposed, but is actually more suitable for the C. I never realised that the C had any real character whatsoever.

Try the Schubert Sonatinas OPus 137 on the C . FUN!

Was I in for a real surprise when I received this cute C clarinet, all plated in silver and more fun to play than even the Eb. It has as well a distinctive sound, almost embodying the true clarinet sound even more than the Bb, like a clarinet with an exra long clarion register. Sweet as sugar, I think, and I heartily recommend it. I am getting on, however I think I might like to play everything on C if I were still playing in an orchestra. Just think of all those Beethoven and Mozart Symphonies and Piano Concertos playing the solos on C clarinet.

I know  a great musician, Rovert Levin, a dear and old friend, who has written two sonatas for me. He loves the sound of the C and when he played a Beethoven Concerto with the Chicago Symphony, he mentioned that Larry Combs was happy to accomodate Bobbie and play the big solo on C.

So, we both love the C. And there are players who play the Schubert Octet on the C clarinet, So, dear friends, here I am after all of the years criticising those who did not transpose to the Bb, finding that the C clarinet is every bit as viable as the Bb, or the A.

Did I forget to mention that you play it with the very same mouthpiece as the Bb clarinet? Well, you do, and if you have a mouthpiece made by his majesty, Richard Hawkins, the clarinet will play all by itself.

The C clarinet for me is truly Holiday Cheer.

Best wishes, Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Christmas, or as we used to say back in the Be-Bop era, “Have a cool Yule and a Frantic First”.



3 Responses to The Clarinet in C, a wonderful experience

  1. bulldoggy2008 says:

    Are you able to tell what brand C clarinet you have? Is it by chance a Forte?

  2. danop says:

    Very interesting! I’ve never tried a C clarinet, and I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard one. From what I’ve read, the common conception has always been that the C doesn’t have the same nice mellow sound that the B-flat has. Perhaps improvements in bore design will change old beliefs. It’s interesting the C melody saxophone was once quite common, but almost disappeared. It is now making a comeback.

    Now, here’s something to ponder. What if the C eventually replaces the B-flat in concert bands? I wonder what a section of middle school clarinet players on C clarinets would sound like. Would the sound be more shrill, or would it sound just like a section playing B-flat instruments? What if they were all playing on aging no. 2 Rico reeds? (Sorry Sherman, I just couldn’t resist!)

    I thought I’d throw in a quick story from my days in a university band. The director, who was a trumpet player, looked at the clarinets after a fast and difficult passage in the upper register. “Clarinets,” he said seriously, “I don’t want this to sound like sunrise on a chicken farm.” Ouch! I wonder what it would have sounded like if we had all been playing on C’s.

  3. ttapscott says:

    I too would like to know the brand of this particular instrument. I’ve been considering a C for q while, but have yet to follow through in getting one.

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