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 What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-06-01 10:07

Around 50 years ago, French clarinetists sounded French: rather reedy and bright (Jacques Lancelot, U. Delecluse, etc;). Italians played double-lip and played Italian instruments. The English played Boosey and Hawkes 1010s and played with a very distinctive vibrato. We could go on and on (Russians, Czechs, the Dutch...). I think the clarinet has never been played better than it is today, but tone and style have become globalized. Is this to be bemoaned?

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com


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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: Jarmo Hyvakko 
Date:   2019-06-01 11:45

Sad, isn't it? I remember that i had fun trying to imitate different styles as a young boy. I believe it was very useful in developing flexibility to your embouchure!

Still, i find there are some different style directions: europeans seem to prefer more open mouthpieces resulting darker, rounder, less focused and more covered sound and americans the opposite as many of them are playing with quite closed mouthpieces.

Another big borderline i find to be in phrasing: there are the players, that are trying to get very imaginative interpretations by doing lots of small details by making quick crescendi and dinuendi often even on single notes. And then the old school with more classical approach, honouring phrases, trying to play long, smooth melodic lines trying to avoid the details to disturb understanding the musical form.

I must say, that, so pleasing the dark and mellow clarinet sound is, i sometimes miss the old bright sound with sparkling overtones. But it's so difficult to make a beautiful one! Much easier to kill most of the overtones with your mouthpiece and ligature and find more useable reeds.

Jarmo Hyvakko, Principal Clarinet, Tampere Philharmonic, Finland

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-01 16:58

I totally agree. The reason for it of course is a shriking world. Today there are so many more manufactures of all equipment and it is all accessible to everyone around the world. And then there's all the recordings and touring soloist, master classes etc has bought the styles and tones from all countries to other countries. When I was on tour in Germany and Austria many years ago we found a printing of orchestra openings which at the time stateted, Deutch Clarinet required. Not only don't I believe that to be true anymore but in America some players now play German clarinets and Morals is now working with Uebel, who would have thought that 25 years ago?
When I studied with Russianoff in the late 50s early 60s he was upset when someone referred to the NY sound. He thought that referred to Stanley Drucker. At the time NY had great players and teaches from all over the world. French, Russian, English etc. He said there is no NY sound only a world sound and when I asked him who he thinks I should try to emulate he told me to sound like Eddie Palanker. Best advise I ever got.
I did used to have fun impressing my friends at times being able to tell what orchestra was playing on a recording by being able to identify the clarinet player, or at least the country. Not alway but often. Now that's near impossible. America has the world sound. I hear dark, bright, brilliant, dull, beautiful and "ugly" :-) . You name it and it's here. Of course it's a big country with many orchestra's and styles.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-06-01 17:08

Dear Ed: I think some German orchestras still require candidates to play on a German clarinet. Not the least of which is the Berlin Philharmonic. Some countries that used the German clarinet not long ago: the Czech Republic, parts of Russia, have switched to Boehm. The Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam had a tradition of Wurlizer-reformed, but their principal clarinet is now French and plays Buffet.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com


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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-06-01 19:14

There are things to say on both sides, but I think playing overall has benefitted from a greater familiarity by players, and more important, conductors, audition committees and audiences, with playing styles internationally. Some "national styles" got away with things that, after all, didn't sound that great, and that's more difficult now. A couple years ago, I heard Oper Frankfurt play "Arabella." Fantastic solo playing with a sound that would fly in most any orchestra in the world, on German system horns. One very good thing national styles accomplished, though, was a coordinated, compatible sound throughout the orchestra because everyone thought about sound and style in very similar ways.

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2019-06-02 16:35

Ruben, I'm sure some of not most German orchestra's still do. I didn't want to give the impression that many, or even most, don't. I know when Morales played a summer with Berlin he used his French style-American clarinet several summers ago.

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2019-06-03 02:18

Typical state of affairs for auditions in German and Austrian A orchestras:

https://www.muvac.com/en/vac/wdr-sinfonieorchester-koeln-klarinette-5

"DEUTSCHES SYSTEM (nicht Böhm-System!)"

When Morales played as a guest principal in Berlin they were trying out a few players on Boehm. But they never allowed any Boehm players to audition for the actual job in the end.

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-06-03 20:09

Liquorice: What does the Vienna Philharmonic require? An Austrian clarinet?

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com


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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2019-06-04 02:10

The plea to preserve and favor the German system instruments received a great deal of impetus when the clarinet section of the Berlin Philharmonic protested the hiring of Boehm system player Chen Halevi as clarinet professor in a German conservatory. Halevi discusses this issue on his website at https://www.clarichen.com. Nevertheless, Halevi was hired and has been playing and teaching the Boehm clarinet in Germany at the Trossingen Hochschure fur Musik since 2002.

Dirk Altman, who played with the Berlin Philharmonic under von Karajan in the early 80s and studied with Karl Leister, has somehow managed to switch from the German instrument (to the Boehm made by Josef Oboes of Japan--which he helped design) and hold the position of principal clarinet with the SWR Symphony Orchestra in Stuttgart for several years now. There must be still more Boehm teachers and orchestral players in the German-system oriented world, but orchestras do appear to be under considerable pressure to promote the German-system instruments.



Post Edited (2019-06-04 04:13)

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: donald 
Date:   2019-06-04 02:24

Marina Sturm played Boehm clarinet in the Frankfurt orchestra for a couple of years (I don't know the details but think it was an acting position) before taking up the position of Principal clarinet in NZSO. I believe there was dissent within the orchestra (from a brief conversation with a German player years later) but my recollection is vague and someone else surely know the real version of events.
Both Morales and Carbonare played Principal with BPO but at the time it was made clear to all that this was just in an "acting" capacity.

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-06-04 03:24

In the 80s Vienna Philharmonic players played Oehler system Hammerschmidt clarinets (Berlin was Wurlitzer). Austrian clarinets are typically bigger bore and have a more "diffuse" sound (my term).


Last concert I saw on TV (New Year's Eve) the oboists were still using Choctans (sp?) and the horn players still used piston valved horns (tradition is strong there). And yet there were MANY females in the ranks! Some traditions have thankfully been retired.


Lastly: we have not mentioned that there was a greater propensity for the top conductors to exhibit a particular style in days of yore, ie Karajan, Ansermet, Stokowski, Toscanini. That contributed to the "International" differences as well. Much of that has to do with floating directors, negligible rehearsal hours and stuffing the performance schedule with crap (at least in the US).



..............Paul Aviles

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: John Peacock 
Date:   2019-06-04 12:36

There's more to German playing than using an Oehler system. I've heard it said that German players are increasingy using mouthpieces that are more similar to the Boehm world - i.e. much more open lays compared to the very closed things that used to be traditional. You can see this trend exemplified in a mouthpiece like the Vandoren B40D, which is marketed as suitable for either kind of instrument. I have a Uebel Oehler from the 1950s, and the mouthpiece on that is indeed utterly different from the B40D. If you compare, say, the clarinet playing on Furtwangler's BPO recordings from the 1950s with a modern Oehler player like Blaz Sparovec (the recent Nielsen competition winner), you would be hard pressed to place them in a common school. A top professional friend of mine commented that he admired Sparovec's playing but initially had completely missed the fact he was using Oehlers. So I think you can argue that convergence of sound is happening universally, not just within different schools of Boehm playing.

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: kdk 2017
Date:   2019-06-04 16:45

Please forgive a naive question from a player who has never even handled, much less played, on a German system clarinet. Can players, with enough practice, become equally fluent on both Boehm and Oehler clarinets to the point where they could switch back and forth to conform to whatever the requirements are to be hired by a specific orchestra?

Don't woodwind doublers do essentially the same thing when they learn flute, oboe, clarinet and sax fingerings? Don't people who play historic period instruments for Classical period music and Boehm clarinets for more modern music essentially do this?

Karl



Post Edited (2019-06-04 16:48)

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-06-04 17:06

kdk: In my very limited experience of playing both types of clarinets, the great difficulty I experienced was that the gap between holes on the lower joint was different: a major hurdle, this is! Going from A clarinet to e-flat isn't a problem because the gap between fingers is proportional; liking cutting a large or small cake into 8 pieces. The change in mouthpieces, on the other hand, wasn't a problem. I play double-lip, and I feel this makes you more flexible. I find/ found it much easier to go from clarinet to sax than from Boehm to Oehler, ironically.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com


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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: ruben 
Date:   2019-06-04 17:12

John Peacock: It's funny, John, because Germans and French were reedy in their own way before the 70s. Jacques Lancelot and Heinrich Geuser, both of whom I heard in the concerthall- had a different way of being reedy, which is hard to pin down. This didn't stop them from being fabulous musicians, I hasten to add. Along came Leister in Germany and Guy Deplus in France and that was the end of reediness.

rubengreenbergparisfrance@gmail.com


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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: dorjepismo 2017
Date:   2019-06-04 17:30

Having played German system (of which Oehler instruments are a subset), I agree with John that the traditional mouthpieces are as critical to the "German sound" as the rest of the instrument. We shouldn't think of that sound as monolithic, though, as one can hear quite clearly by listening to recordings of Leister and Jost Michaels back to back. I recently bought the complete Furtwängler 1939 - 1945 recordings from the Philharmoniker. There's one concert from 1944 with the Freischutz Overture, the two Daphnis suites, and the Pastorale, where the sound is certainly "dark" and "centered," but wouldn't be especially out of place in a modern American orchestra. The oboe was a lot more "cosmopolitan" than Lothar Koch, too. On switching between German and Boehm system, it could certainly be done with a lot of mindfulness, but nearly the same effect could be accomplished with less worry by switching between a Reform Boehm with a German mouthpiece, and a French bore with the kind of mouthpiece most of us are used to. I've heard of people playing German system bass and Boehm soprano clarinets, though, and there are excellent reasons for doing that.

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: Liquorice 
Date:   2019-06-05 09:47

Every 2 years we have an audition for our orchestra academy. The 40 or so candidates play behind a curtain. I enjoy trying to guess if players are using German or Boehm system instruments. It shocks me that these days I am not always able to tell. And when I can tell it's often because of the intonation tendencies rather than the sound colour.

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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: DavidBlumberg 
Date:   2019-06-05 17:19

Eventually we will all be the same color, and the diversity that was sought after will once again be non-diverse.

That has happened a lot with Clarinet playing.


Now it's more like Manufacturers who have the "style of playing" and not the Country. The sound is Buffet, Backun, Selmer, Yamaha, and now starting Uebel.

http://www.SkypeClarinetLessons.com


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 Re: What's left of national schools of playing?
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2019-06-05 22:54

David,

I think you've got it right. The brands rather than the countries are "showing what they've got." Don't forget the Devon and Burgani clarinet from Brazil. Try a few at the ICA! The Fluency model has separate vents for the throat Bb and the register key and the tone color is very distinctive in three different choices of wood. It's not nation states that clarinetists are representing in their playing, either my choice or ascription, any more. It's international and anyone can buy anything they like (money of course being essential to the transaction) in this "Brave New World" in accord with personal preference. Players come from all over the world to study with Gilad, and eventually legions will have studied with him or one of his many students, but that won't make them adherents to an "American" or "(Los) Angeleno" school of playing.



Post Edited (2019-07-25 00:00)

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