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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000022.txt from 2005/08

From: "dnleeson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Low C Bass Clarinets
Date: Thu, 04 Aug 2005 11:28:57 -0400

I get the impression from this note that Adam considers the use
of the low C bass clarinet from ca. 1955 to be an age of darkness
and ignorance, that few had the instrument, and that the
oppontunity to use its extreme low tones was rare.

If I have correctly stated what I believe to be the essence of
Adam's ideas, I think his perspective to be excessive. I bought
my first low C bass in Paris in 1962. I found it advantageous to
have one, even at that early age, for two reasons. One was the
literature and even by that time the were significant works in
the repertoire that called for the notes, and the other was that
the added wood that gave the instrument its low note capability
also added character to the sound of the instrument even when the
low notes were not played.

Adam cites Jimmy Abato's views on how things were. Jimmy is and
has been one of the finest players that I ever had the privilege
to work with. When he was in the section, the intoration was
like a laster beam. He performances were things of wonder and I
don't remember him ever missing a note, though I don't want to
give the impression that I played with him constantly for years
and years.

Having said all of that about Jimmie, I want to distinguish his
extraordinary musicianship and facility on his instruments from
his knowledge of music history and appreciation (or lack of it)
for musicological subtlties. Those were not aspects on which he
was well-equipped to comment. Bottom line is that his comments,
as given by Adam, must be tempered by his lack of a broad general
knowledge of what was happening in the clarinet world in general.
I suspect that if a low C was in a part that Jimmie was playing,
he would not have given the matter of playing it an octave higher
a second thought. Things like that were not important to him.

Dan Leeson

-----Original Message-----
From: Adam Michlin []
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2005 7:49 AM
Subject: [kl] Low C Bass Clarinets

Dear List,

I had a chance to discuss low C bass clarinets with Jimmy Abato
and wanted
to share his input. Playing with the NY Philharmonic in the 40s,
he only
had need of a bass clarinet to low C once, for Shostakovich 7.
Playing with
the Met until the late 90s, he can only recall having to use a
clarinet to low C once, but he isn't entirely sure. He has never
owned a
low C bass clarinet and in both cases can remember borrowing an
for the performance. He tells me this was not at all uncommon
among the
circle of players he knew.

It seems that most (Northern American) players in the early
second half of
the twentieth century played on low Eb bass clarinets and
borrowed low C
bass clarinets when necessary. My tentative conclusion is that it
was not
acceptable to ignore notes below Eb on bass clarinet parts, but
players could not justify the cost of or, perhaps, hassles
associated with
owning early model low C bass clarinets.



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