Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Sweet Sounding Clarinet

Along with the piano, the clarinet is my favorite instrument of all.  I have been captivated by the clarinet's beautiful deep mellow, soulful sound.  The clarinet is similar to my other favorite instrument, the piano, with its wide tone range [low notes to high notes] and its dynamics [the volume of sound] it can make.  

B-flat Clarinet

From the web site we learn that the clarinet's tone range is wider than that of all other wind instruments.  Also, "The clarinet's dynamic (loudness) ranges from [very, very soft] ppp to [very, very loud] fff (only brass and saxophones can play louder). Other woodwinds usually will have serious difficulties beginning a phrase in ppp, not so the clarinet". 

"Both in sound and playing techniques the clarinet is one of the most flexible instruments at all. It displays many characteristics you find in the human voice. It shows quite different sounds in the different registers - (high, medium, low) more characteristic than any other wind instrument. You can play virtually all forms of articulation with a clarinet - extremely short staccato, a perfect legato (binding of notes), vibrato when it is needed, even a glissando (that is changing the pitch from one tone to another without having to interrupt)."  

A famous example of glissando played by the clarinet is the opening of George Gershwin's popular "Rhapsody In Blue". 

The Clarinet "glissando" [and opening] from Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue:

There are two pieces, when I first heard them, that made me add the clarinet, along with the piano, as my favorite instruments.  Both of those pieces are by the quintessential classical composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto in A-Major" and his "Quintet in A-Major for Clarinet and Strings".  Mozart was a master at bringing out the beautiful sound of the clarinet.  

When you hear this final movement of the Mozart clarinet concerto [from MozartClarinet on You Tube] you can hear from the beautiful playing by virtuoso clarinetist, Martin Frost, both the wide tone range  [low to high notes] of the clarinet and the wide dynamic range [soft/loud] throughout this concerto.  Just two small examples that you hear throughout of the wide tone range are from 1:27-2:02, and 3:15-3:52.

W.A. Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A-Major, Movement 3, Rondo Allegro:

Now listen to Mozart's wonderful Clarinet Quintet, my second favorite clarinet piece, and I think you will appreciate why when I heard these two pieces, I fell in love with the clarinet. This quintet is scored in A Major with 4 movements: 1. Allegro, 2. Larghetto, 3. Minuet-Trio, and 4. Allegretto with variations

W.A. Mozart:  Clarinet Quintet in A-Major:

Here is an example of how the clarinet can almost take the place of the human voice in a singing nature as this video from one of my favorite soprano arias of all, O Mio Babbino Caro, from Giaccomo Puccini's opera "Gianni Schicchi".  This version was arranged by the great virtuoso clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman.  Please turn up the volume and enjoy this beautiful song.

Giaccomo Puccini:  "O Mio Babbino Caro", aria from the opera "Gianni Schicchi":

Now here is a delightful, pleasant Clarinet Concerto from Carl Stamitz.  Turn up the volume and listen to this playful rondo Movement 3 from his Clarinet Concerto #7.

Carl Stamitz: Clarinet Concerto #7 in B-flat Major, Movement 3, Rondo:

Finally here is piece that brings out the beauty of the clarinet, from the melodic Italian composer, Gioachino Rossini: his introduction, theme and variations for clarinet and orchestra.  Please turn up the volume and enjoy this great virtuosic piece for clarinet performed by Han Kim.

G. Rossini: Introduction, theme and variations for clarinet and orchestra:

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