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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000645.txt from 2002/06

From: Karl Krelove <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Vibrato REDUX
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 16:51:42 -0400

I was too young (22 or thereabout) and naive in 1969, having just graduated
from a four year program studying with Gigliotti, to have understood
completely at the time, but your comment rang one of those little memory
bells and made me wonder what you'd think, Dan.

In the fall of 1969 I had just joined the Army Field Band (at Fort Meade)
and immediately called Harold Wright to try to arrange for some lessons (he
was still in the National Symphony and taught at Catholic U.). At my first
(it turned out only) lesson with him, I asked him something about how he
produced his vibrato. He flatly denied using one - said it was merely added
intensity in the tone that he used for emotional effect. I always wondered
why he so completely avoided calling it vibrato when anyone with a recording
of his Brahms Sonatas could hear it.

I remember Gigliotti actually saying something similar. I had just finished
singing in the chorus for a series of Beethoven 9th performances with the
Philadelphia Orchestra at the Academy of Music and had been able to hear his
playing in the slow movement (which was beautiful, by the way) from much
closer than I'd ever heard him except at lessons (where he played in a very
straight, unemotional style). When I asked him about the slight but very
clear vibrato I heard on the stage in those performances, he nearly denied
it as well, saying he only used a very slight vibration (I don't think he
would go as far as the word "vibrato") to make the air stream last longer
and give it more flexibility.

I always thought it was just a Philadelphia/Curtis thing. Was there that
much of a stigma attached to vibrato elsewhere in America in those years?

Karl Krelove

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Daniel Leeson []
> ...(long snip) It's
> perceived as being unAmerican, which means it is either French or,
> worse, Reginald Kell-ish. Some that do use it do so in a very
> apologetic manner; i.e., "I use it but sparingly, quietly, you don't
> even know I'm doing it. It's hardly noticeable. You won't even hear it.
> It's really not that there at all."
> ...
> It was this attitude towards vibrato playing that ruined Kell's American
> career more than anything else, though, in my opinion it was the
> exceptional brilliance of his playing that caused most American players
> to run for the hills, not his vibrato.


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