Clarinet Tone Talk 9: Pearly Tone?

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pearly clarinet tone

Perhaps you have heard the phrase "pearly technique". What about using that word to describe clarinet tone? Pearly Tone. How would that sound?

Pearly implies roundness, shimmer and depth of tone. It also implies a tone which stays consistent from note to note through all registers, all volumes.

Which clarinetist would you say has roundness, shimmer and depth altogether in their sound?

Here's my choice. Below is a clip of one of the best tones in the clarinet world, in my opinions. I won't list a name or the piece to keep the conversation on the tone itself. (Some of you may know this recording. If not, I'll post it next week. Or you can contact me.)

The tone has a glow, gentle and warm, but not at all dull.

In legato, each note is strung onto the next with matching shape and color. Soft dynamics match loud in shimmer and softness. Louder volumes float and roll, never harsh or edgy.

The entire range of the instrument promises and delivers a matching velvetiness.

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Beyond the coloristic qualities of this tone, it's shape and size match the strings and piano perfectly, demonstrating the ability to blend as well as shine when necessary.

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2 comments for “Clarinet Tone Talk 9: Pearly Tone?

  1. John Peacock
    November 22, 2010 at

    This clip does show impressive control, and it has good uniformity of sound. I find it a little uninvolving, however: the sound is very plain and lacks personality (a dangerous term, I know, often used as an excuse for lack of control in sound production). Maybe it’s because my ears are still full of some of the most amazing clarinet sound I’ve heard in many years: this is Martin Frost’s new CD of encore pieces “Frost and friends”. I haven’t always liked his sound before, but this is astonishing. The best things on the disc are where he plays lieder transcriptions as songs without words: the sound he makes is round, warm and more “vocal” than just about any singer. You can hear clips on Amazon: try track 9 (Rachmaninov’s Vocalise) or 11 (Schumann’s “dein Angesight”). I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    • November 22, 2010 at

      Martin is one of the best of the best. His playing is balanced in every way, technically and musically.

      As gorgeous as his sound (just tone) is, I like this player’s tone a bit better in this instance.

      Overall, however, Frost wins by a longshot.

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