That’s Nice – Now, Play it Again.

We’re always searching for that definitive – we’ll, everything – recordings, phrasing, musical genus, technique – I find that sometimes on this quest, we verge off that path a bit (OR A LOT) and end up in the briar bushes, picking thorns out of every which body part.

My current playlist for the Mozart Concerto is Jon Manasse, Sabine Meyer, Reginald Kell, and Marcellus.
I like this concept of hearing something new and fresh when it comes to the Mozart. The Mozart can be like playing scales, we tend to just DO IT, and not think about the musical value of, yes I’m going to say it, scales. The Mozart, I think, perpetuates that stagnant playing especially if we’re not careful about getting out of the notes and playing the music.
Lets liven it up a bit!!! Recordings are my best source for a fresh, new, and sometimes crazy look on works. And even better, if I just sit down in complete silence and study/sing all the parts of the score and solo to really development my own voice – it’s a miraculous breakthrough! It’s meticulous and I need to approach my studies like this more.
No doubt some teachers would disagree with my methods – but, then again, there are some really awfully teachers teaching people how to play the clarinet (this frightens me, by the way). That’s beside the point, however, I’m old enough to know concepts of tone – I know the sound I want – not Reginald Kell’s.
See, I’m removing thorns again – stupid ADD.
The impetus for writing this blog is that, on my shuffle playlist of Mozart recordings, Reginald Kell popped on. I smiled, actually, I think I giggled. At first listen, I couldn’t help but notice his inconsistent vibrato.
I kept imagining someone grabbing his shoulders, while he’s playing, and shaking him violently to make the vibrato. Wouldn’t that be a spectacle at the Kennedy or Lincoln Center!
Something sparked my interest and I went back and listened again – stripping the “nuances” he is so fond of and simply listened to the music. Listening for his melodic development, treatment of the line – I wanted to hear how he sings. And though his tone can be compared to that of a clarinet made of Campbell’s Soup Cans – his concept of phrase is really quite spectacular. I really am just sort of giddy over his eloquent sensitivty to the ebbs and flows, dissonances and consonances of the music. His music making is just something else. But – conceptually his tone – is different.
You have to get passed that fluff and allow the bias, that we as
clarinetists today harbor, to disappear. Just because it’s different, just because it’s not what you’d do – doesn’t always mean that they’re a bad musician, or stupid, or awful, or gay, or what-have-you.
There are other criteria which makes one a bad musician – like CLOSE MINDEDNESS.
I just got so excited about listening to this recording, weird, I KNOW! But I just saw it in a completely different light. Many years, I’ve sort of scorned such playing – but, it’s something very new to me now.
I mean – I’m not going to go off and play with vibrato or switch to strength two reeds on a plastic see-through mouthpiece with a tin foil ligature (all though, that would be funny!) It’s the music man! It’s beautiful how we can create all these different and exciting stylistic ideas and concepts!!!
It’s just hard to get passed Kell’s vibrato and bright tone….
I can’t WAIT to practice today!!!

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