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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000136.txt from 2005/08

From: "Bryan Crumpler" <>
Subj: [kl] RE: Stolzman and Copland concerto
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 04:04:28 -0400

>Read the thread currently running on the Clarinet Bulletin Board concerning
>vibrato and the Copland Concerto:

In the end, it's really just a matter of personal taste... but... I really
notice (at least for soloistic playing), you HAVE to give color and
character to the sound. I find that most often achieved through effectively
through "vibrating" controllably in some sense. Just imagine if every opera
singer sang like a kid in one of those boys choirs from the Lord of the
Rings Soundtrack. That's no worse than those four corny Pavorotti wannabe's
singing Tony Braxton pop hits -- overvibration. Or Josh Grobin -- constant
unvarying vibration. And then you have people like Rachael Lampa, Pink,
Shania Twain, Christina Aguilera who... despite varying opinion of their
"type" of music... have very musical control over their vibrato.

I've come to the conclusion that the dislike for clarinet vibrato is mostly
an American phenomenon arising out of the wind band clarinet tradition. That
doesn't quite carry over to the orchestral world where "vibration" tends to
be more dominant. When I was younger and more naive, I was always baffled
why the so-called great or well-known artists always seemed to use _some_
kinda of "vibrato" if it were so horrid. For example... Gervase De Peyer,
Kari Kriiku, Sabine Meyer, Michel Arrignon, John Bruce Yeh, Charlie Neidich,
Sharon Kam, Harold Wright, Reginald Kell, Emma Johnson, David Campbell,
Walter Boeykens, Andrew Marriner, Allesandro Carbonara, Ricardo Morales,
Richard Stolzman, Benny Goodman, Mitchell Lurie, Jonathan Cohler... etc etc.
The ones who don't use some sort of vibration kinda fall through the cracks,
don't they? Who's ever heard of the Principal Clarinetist of the Dallas Wind
Symphony or the Tokyo Kosei Wind Symphony????? Get my point. But is it
really "vibrato" that we're talking about here???

Having had extended training both in Europe _and_ the US, I can say there is
something to be said about <<vibrating>> as in, not falling still... adding
nuance to a sound that makes it light, vocal, and elegant. This is what we
call "color" or "coloring the notes"... Some mistake this voor "vibrato".
Regardless, I have learned from many a recording session that if I don't
vibrate (or in other words, color the notes) the end result in the recording
is unmoving, uninspiring, and frankly... boring. From the moment you stop
vibrating, the music doesn't "live". And oftentimes when controlled and done
well, it really doesn't come across as a sort of vibrato to the listener but
rather just a beautiful sound... the vibration becomes secondary.

In contrast to coloring notes, which is a question of elegance and nuance,
you have what I call "vibrato".This is often what David Krakauer does, and
was often what Artie Shaw did... It's not surprising this is more accepted
in the jazz/klezmer world. This has been discussed for years. I'm guessing
not many people find it elegant when instrumentalists and singers literally
quaver the sound constantly and endlessly, often without regard to using the
"vibration" for giving character to the sound within the phrase. Sometimes
that works. But Stolzman *doesn't* do this.

What Richard Stolzman does is more like a mixture of the two which is why I
think a lot of people constantly debate about *his* style, but not about
anyone elses. It's borderline. Yes, he gives color to notes and vibrates to
give character to the sound in a manner that supports the melodic line and
phrasing. And often it sounds phenomenal. It's not that he's trying to be
"jazzy"... so to speak. That's a bit overstated. But what I do *think* the
thing that bothers most people is *not* that he "vibrates" when he plays...
'cause MANY great players do it. I think it has more to do with the fact
that he does it so much and with such a wide amplitude at times that the
sound becomes distorted. That's simply a question of tone spreading... not
vibrato, is it not?

So like I said (as if it's never been said before) it's a question of
personal taste. You can't always say the performer comes before the
composer, because as I work more and more with living composers and see what
they wrote vs what they want... they rarely notate these ideas in their
compositions. I strongly believe it's the performer's job to make works
sound more brilliant than the composer could have imagined when conceiving
the work on paper. This is what it means to go "deep" into the music...
beyond what is on the paper. Stolzman does this with flair... so what if his
tone isn't ideal.

Think about it...


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