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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Filtering by Tag: clarinet

Larry Combs and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Larry Combs was the principal clarinetist for the Chicago Symphony for three decades and is considered one of the all-time greats.  He was appointed principal clarinet by Sir Georg Solti in 1978 and stepped down in 2008.

Here he is a recording of him performing Aaron Copland's "Concerto for Clarinet and String Orchestra" with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Erich Leinsdorf.  This recording is from 1979, his second year in the orchestra.

The two things that jump out at me about his playing are his sound and his dynamic range.  The consistency of both offer me examples to strive for in my own playing.


Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

This is a live performance of Carl Nielsen's Wind Quintet, Opus 43, played by the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet.  This was performed on October 5, 2012 at the Samobor Music Festival in Croatia. The Performers:

Michael Hasel, Flute Andreas Wittmann, Oboe Walter Seyfarth, Clarinet Fergus McWilliam, Horn Marion Reinhard, Bassoon

The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet is everything I look for in a chamber ensemble.  Each member is playing every note like a soloist and yet the most important line or lines are always stepping to the foreground.

I instantly fell in love with the music of Carl Nielsen when I performed his Fifth Symphony at Tanglewood as a high school student.  He was a brilliant composer and his Wind Quintet is simply fantastic.


Eric Dolphy: Monday YouTube Fix

Andrew Hitz

Eric Dolphy was one of many genius musicians who was taken from us way too early.  He tragically died from a coma brought on by an undiagnosed diabetic coma at the age of 36.  Whether he was playing the saxophone, the flute, or as in this clip, the bass clarinet, his phrasing had a purity and urgency that demanded the listener's full attention. As any musician will tell you, playing an unaccompanied solo in any genre is one of the most difficult things to do in music.  Even for a short clip like this one, it is difficult to keep things interesting.  I find this version of God Bless The Child absolutely mesmerizing.  Dolphy's playing is beyond engaging.  So many notes and yet the phrasing, not the virtuosity, stand out above everything else.

He had so much music left to make.  It is a shame we lost him so soon.  And unlike many of his contemporaries who also died at an early age, Dolphy was not involved with drugs and did not kill himself through excess.  Such a shame.

Monday YouTube Fix: Stanley Drucker

Andrew Hitz

I realized that the woodwinds have been severely underrepresented in my Monday YouTube Fix so I figure there's no better place to start than with Stanley Drucker.  Mr. Drucker was a clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic for 61 years! No that is not a typo.  49 of those years were as the principal.  It is hard to imagine that I first heard him play with the Philharmonic 21 years ago and he had been playing in the orchestra at that time for 43 years! This is a wonderful performance of the Weber Concertino for Clarinet and Orchestra.  He sure makes that instrument sound easy.