Lyrique G1 (W.T. Ridenour)

July 18, 2011

Riddle: Older is not better, it is older. But one can feel as young again, given the right clarinet.

It is Monday July 18, 2011 and this is our sons 43rd birthday.
I just had a strange experience, one of surprise.
I received the new Lyrique G1 clarinet a few days ago and was  pleased and surprised. I have been playing it for several days and I have found it very familiar to play, gratifying as well.
I just set it down to get up for a few minutes to answer a phone call. It was difficult for me to get up, for I have had a ruptured qadriceps for several years, which was repaired, but too late and badly on a leg that was not terribly great to begin with , because of childhood polio.

But wait, this is not a request for a donation, but a report of my elation. The reason it was difficult to arise is because that is the norm of my life now.No big deal. Lots of people have things with which to deal. I am surprised because it was a surprise to get up after playing a clarinet that made me feel young again, with all the prowess of an accomplished youngster.

I had just played some of my favorite melodies from both the orchestral and chamber music repertoire: Brahms 3rd, (slow movement), Eb Sonata (opening), Egmont, (the clarinet solo) the opening of the Hindemith Woodwind Quintet, and the clarinet solo in the second movement. These were melodies that I have not played for years, but will remain within my memory for as long as I am here.
They all have large intervals which must be played easily, or must sound easily played. Usually, there is a bump or a grind here or there, until you’ve got them under your fingers again and in the mind of your embouchure.
What was different is,that after playing them and experiencing  real fun, I had stopped to get up, and found myself again, an old man.
It was a surprise, a big surprise, because for a while I was again a youngster, awaiting my turn in an audition, one which I would win, hands down.

That is the best way I can explain this clarinet. A little more specificity: intervals, large ones, either up or down play with the surety of total control.

More specificity: the thumb rest, which is truly adjustable is easy to change and gave me the best feeling I have had for many years. Not a problem found anywhere in the right hand. It is wider than the usual and works best with my adjustment high. But no further adjustment is necessary.

Continuing, the clarion register almost plays by itself, the legato which must be present in the Ravel “Bolero”, seems built in.

All the while I had my tuner in front of me. For those of you who do this, you know that one can put any note anywhere if you feel either high or low to the tuner. You also know that one doesn’t tarry trying to tune a note, (as there is always a variance one can meet in several different ways) one gets the actual pitch. I found no variance whatever, the clarinet being  fine right out of the case. Just playing or with the tuner. It is reminiscent of my Opus Bb of my set,with a more immediate response.

It is not necessary to give one a chart with small deviances , as each of us plays differently and even hears differently. This clarinet, I would play tonight anywhere.I know the tuning is well within my capability. I play everything on the longer of the two supplied barrels.

One first notices the comfort of the key table.  The key work of the Lyrique G-1 is perfect, there seems a personal quality in the way the keys are set. The plating is a pleasure under the fingers, very substantially made.

Most importantly is the response of the clarinet, made from grenadilla wood, rather then hard rubber. The Lyrique clarinet of hard rubber has the same ease of production, however the response of this clarinet is far superior. There is a solidity of response, (or sound, one may say) that while expressing every nuance of dynamic production, does so with a security that one knows will be heard.

Staccato throughout the instrument is even , as it is in legato.

I put my mouthpiece into the nice looking brown case with the brass hardware. I have a concert of Chamber Music I am playing on the 31st of July.
I will be playing it on the Lyrique G1 clarinet, with the pleasure of a young man….one with a bad leg.

stay well,


Clifford Michael Siegenberg. Beethoven 111, with Kenny.

July 11, 2011

I have written or recounted many anecdotal stories about certain musicians whom I have met or with whom I’ve performed.

Clifford Michael Siegenberg was born in  London  to Michael and Constance Mary Siegenberg (née Young). The family soon afterwards changed their name to Curzon. (for many,he was one of the finest pianists of his generation)
For me, I remember the recording he made with Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra of the Brahms D minor Piano Concerto as being exquisite.
Unlike the recording made of the same work by Glenn Gould with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philhrmonic, there was simply little  controversy. The Gould perfomance is quite slow, slower than standard tempi and in general, not a great performance, the Szell recording with Curzon can be called definitive.
Curson, imself ,also related anecdotes. He mentioned having played the first movement of one of the 5 Beethoven concerti for piano, and momentarily forgetting whch second movement was to follow. He said, it gave him pause, a moment of panic.

Here is the true story of Kenny (M.K. Wolf,MD,  having recently recently joined the majority) my dear friend and accompanist.

Sir Clifford was to play a concert at Fontainbleau, and there was also to be a Master Class on Beethoven Opus 111.

Kenny and his wife Emily, were touring the summer piano festivals, entering as many as they could.(I think he won a prize at Bolzano, which they hung up in their smallest bathroom).

Upon hearing of the Curzon Master Class, they rushed to Fontainebleau to participate.

Kenny ran up to Mlle. Boulanger, and in his high voice, asked to play for them.
She admonished him for running up to her, which she considered some kind of affront, but allowed him to play.

Here is the scene which happened in the concert hall, “Le jeu de Paume”, (yes the former royal tennis court).
Curzon sat at one end of the piano and boulanger at the other, both shaking thier heads in a negative manner, (as if they were judging Til Eulenspiegel, one could imagine) Of course, Kenny used no music. After each comment, he would reply, “well Schnabel said to play it this way”.

Kenny had studied the work with Arthur Schnabel who had also taught Sir Clifford Curzon.

It did not go well. This was a particular “way” that Kenny had with people. He was quick and brash and had a very high voice.

While he had a rich career in both music and medicine, he was never good at promoting his musical side. People like me were there to help.I wish he were here now.

stay well.