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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000595.txt from 1997/09

From: Robin Fairbairns <>
Subj: Re: Brahms, etc.
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 06:49:40 -0400

> A couple of evenings ago, the BBC Promenade concert included a performance
> of the Brahms Clarinet Quintet by Hausmusik with Anthony Pay playing an
> alleged replica of Muhlfeld's clarinet. I heard the broadcast, which
> obviously made some difference, but what struck me was that Anthony Pay
> sounded more or less as he generally does, with perhaps a bit of
> unevenness of tone - Pay on an instrument borrowed in a hurry,
> maybe.

Tony owns at least some repro clarinets, though this (plainly) wasn't
a Daniel Bangham one, since the announcer said it was made in Germany,
and the only one of Tony's I know about was made by Daniel. I've
instituted enquiries as to whether this one was in fact Tony's own, or

> There wasn't much sign of Muhlfeld's reported vibrato.

I'd forgotten about the vibrato.

> However, what *was* unusual
> (compared with most recordings I've heard, at least) was that the
> chalumeau notes were always audible and practically never smothered by the
> cello, and the attack he obtained was extremely emphatic, making the
> phrasing especially clear. Is this last characteristic a common property
> of late nineteenth-century non-Boehm clarinets?
> Incidentally, the strings *did* use vibrato, though not a lot.
> The Albert Hall acoustics would have affected the sound of course - they
> can be modified these days, I believe, but it's still a bit of a cavern
> to play chamber music in.

My mother was actually at the prom. (With the Diana-mania going on
around Kensington Palace at the time, she had a terrible time getting
to the hall, and missed the first part of the early evening
performance.) She said that, at times, Tony drowned the strings. This
wasn't evident on the broadcast, but as you say, the hall's acoustics
are terribly capricious. The BBC has no doubt worked out yet more
technology for broadcasting from the centre of the arena, but there
was a remark earlier in the season wondering what effect playing from
the arena was going to have (I think this is the first season it's
been tried).

To me, the performance was pretty satisfying. I noted a degree of
wobbliness in his playing, but wasn't overly worried by it.

The BBC really does do us proud... (Remember the commissioned
concerto played late-night last year by Kari Kriikku?)


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