Another(Selmer) pair of clarinets

If you ask anyone in the industry, you will hear that the Selmer name has the most integrity of any maker . The integrity is and has always been felt right into the horns themselves. I have been a clinician, or had been (for 30 years) and yes, I have also played and own just about every Selmer made. For many years, I played a pair of full Boehm Selmer Mazzeo Clarinets,(Centered Tone) and found them to be the most perfect horns, as far as reliability is concerned. Every single additional articulation worked and really, never failed me. I actually played the Pines of Rome Solo, written for A clarinet on the Bb with total success, and found it easier. Why? Because with that system, you get to keep all or almost all of yourfingers down for most of the solo, and you do not have that interval of a 10th to traverse between the throat A and the clarion b . Anyway, that is another story. The Selmer Family of horns is and was my favorite for many years. I especially admire the Bass Clarinet and the Eb served me well in all of those interesting chamber music works, such as Pierrot Lunaire and the Hindemith Quintet,for Bb,crazy Eb the one with the second movement for a eb clarinet , and the last movement, the same as the first, though backwards. Selmer makes myriads of horns, always made as well and or better than the others. And the latest Signature is supposed to be really a superb horn and is being adopted by some special symphony players. The workmanship is better, more correct, feels good on the hands and is more intune than any other Selmer. The great difference between Selmer and Buffet, has always been the indefinable “ping” in the Buffet response, which I know and remember, but there were and are so many other nightmares of even ness and intonation that as I have mentioned, a good techy wil serve as a wife or partner ,if you’re so inclned, but is utterly necessary. “Live with your techy” would be a good bumper sticker for Buffet. If so, you have a great horn, if not the alternatives are plentiful. I used to vist the Selmer showroom and the factory with considerable frequency during the summers I spent in or near Paris. The luncheons with the Jean Selmer and the ride in the crazy Citroen was memorable. I still remember the room in the fctories where all the apprentices were, and the drink machine that dispensed wine. I also remember getting put down by the French guys at the Van Doren place where you can try reeds. My god, those guys had warmups that were truly off the charts, and they loved to play them for Americans playing all of those extra, as they called them, keys. I still say, they were not extra keys. They were all necessary, and they all worked, all of the time. One had to accept the Mazzeo premise, his “system” and believe in it, in which I did, and found it to be superior to anything I played at the time. My personal relationship with Rosie was always love/hate. but he was a great friend, espcially after I called to apologize, after an altercation. The worst such happened when I was playing the end of Til Eulenspiegel at a lesson. The were also playing it in the BSO that week. He kept saying , at the conclusion of the peice, “softer, softer”, and finally I said, “did you get softer yesterday?. The damn broke, the water came in and his wife wouldn’t speak to me, but I sopologized and all was well.
This whole clarinet business has one important lesson for all clarinetists who are thinking about buying a pair of clarinets. Choose well, and take your time. My particular history involved all of the possible choices, and they all work. Next article will speak of the Ridenour Clarinet, with which I have had beaucoup experience. keep practicing.
stay well, sherman

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