Clarinet and Oboe Tone Talk: Schumann Piano Concerto

I was listening to this recording yesterday. It's Leif Ove Andsnes, Berlin Philarhomic with Mariss Jansons.

This has to be one of my favorite pieces as an orchestral clarinetist. I adore the solos Schumann gave to the clarinet in the first movement. By using the clarinet in two contrasting melodic part, Schumann links the "voice" common to both.

But first a few words about the opening oboe solo. The first sample in the clip is from the oboe, stating the solemn minor version of the theme right in the beginning. I love this player's liquid sound and style. It's juicy, like a great mezzo soprano voice might sound.

The second sample is the statement of the boisterous leaping theme in the clarinet and piano. The clarinet adds a gooey-ness (in a good way) to the piano line. The clarinet is quite adept at large leaps, and well chosen for this solo. The third sample is a little masterpiece, a movement within a movement. Piano and clarinet connect in a balletic "Pas de Deux".

Now for the tone talk.

This clarinetist (which as you may remember, I prefer to keep anonymous) plays with a gorgeous tenor-esque tone, unique in its balance of size of tone and vocal liquidity.

In an ideal world, to my ears, the player could have nailed down the intonation a bit better in both clips.

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I cannot help wondering if the player could have benefited from a little more open air column. In an attempt to be expressively intimate, he or she forgets to keep the air open (embouchure and jaw allowing more air through). Better control of intonation is achieved by keeping the air column feeling open especially in softer dynamics.

For those interested, the player from Tone Talk: Pearly Tone of two weeks ago is Jon Manasse. The music was excerpted from a Lowell Liebermann CD featuring his Quintet for Clarinet, Piano and String Trio.

Would you like to share practice ideas with other musicians? You could do so at the Practice Café.

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