Music snippets to listen to
A selection of the most popular pieces
You can write a lot about music, but there is nothing like the real thing: listening to it. On this page I have linked to samples of important or just popular clarinet works on YouTube.
There would be enough space on www.the-clarinets.net to store MP3s in good quality, but there is the legal issue: Until the composer is not dead for more than 70 years (in some countries it is 50 only), you must pay fees to syndicates (like the German GEMA). That would typically be 25 Euro (about 30US$) per month per piece. Plus the artists who played and recorded the music want to be paid, too, let alone the record companies. So I do not run any risks and link to Youtube - where you will find nearly everything. It may be illegal to listen to those recordings in your country, please check for yourself.
If you want better quality in full length, besides buying the CD maybe you go and check your local public library (some - like my local municipal library - have got a huge CD collection).
Do you miss any recording? I'd like to see eMail your suggestions!
Most clarinet music you hear is composed or at least fully arranged; only a small part (Jazz, folk music) will be improvised.
Some of those compositions are either important milestones for clarinet music, or just very popular, and therefore well known even to a wide public. You will most likely have heard and recognize Mozart's and Weber's clarinet concertos, the beginning of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue or "the cat" in "Peter and the Wolf". Others are hardly ever played in radio but still interesting. You find the best known parts listed by composer in chronological order.
What if the link doesn't work?
Some of these links may not work for you, there may be several reasons:
- the contents might have been deleted
- it might be moved somewhere else
- it might be blocked by Youtube
- or by your internet provider because of legal issues
So it can be a general problem or one of your country or your provider. In any case please send me an info per mail and I will see whether I can do something about it (correct the link or replace the piece with another).
Music by Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, clarinet concerto in A: KV 622, most famous of all, 3 movements:
1st movement, Allegro - Sharon Kam
2nd movement, Adagio - Martin Fröst (aka "out of africa")
3rd movement, Rondo - Jack Brymer
W. A. Mozart, clarinet quintett in A: KV 581, Sabine Meyer
Works by Weber
Carl Maria von Weber – clarinet concerto Nr. 1 f minor op. 73 - Jörg Widmann
C.M. v. Weber - clarinet quintet Op. 35 - Karl Leister
Sonata Nr. 1 in f-minor (4 movements) and Sonata Nr. 2 in Es major (3 movement)
Here you can compare the concert style, first typical German and then a US-American interpretation:
Very "German", lots of "Pathos" and completely without any vibrato:
The same Sonata like above, but very "American" - Richard Stoltzman / Yehudy Wyner - (Stoltzman learned to play from Benny Goodman, and you can hear that he also plays Jazz a lot :-) - strong vibrato with short, flat waves...
Rhapsodie in Blue; the famous glissando in the beginning...
Clarinet Sonata Op. 167 1921: Ulf Rodenhäuser
Sergej Sergejewitsch Prokofiews, Peter and the Wolf - the cat - first appearance
Scaramouche (in this version for piano and clarinet) gives you an idea of Milhaud's many different styles, being the most popular of his works.
In addition to written, completely composed pieces for the clarinet, there is also improvised music such as jazz. Here the performer is more prominent than in recordings of classical, composed music, because in a way the player is also something like a composer. However, improvised music is not always as variable as some people think; they follow traditions and sometimes it is played almost note-by-note like other famous players did.
In jazz, the role of the clarinet is shifting from early jazz (New Orleans and Dixieland), where the instrument's musical role in small ensembles was right next to the leading trumpet, to the prominent instrument of the big band era. With Glen Miller, clarinets even replaced the "first trumpet" to a background instrument. In "modern" jazz the clarinet has been largely replaced by the saxophone.
In many cases an Albert system is used. It looks like an old German model, which it actually is (see here). Today there are also rather Boehm models. They are usually played with strong vibrato, and the glissando is a typical style element. In the New Orleans style it still sounds a bit sharp and shrill, later on more moderate (e.g. Benny Goodman or in this recording Ken Peplowski and Victor Goines).
New Orleans Style Clarinet - Careless Love - Evan Christopher
Swing Style Jazz Clarinet - Body and Soul - Ken Peplowski / Victor Goines 2018
In Klezmer, the Yiddish folk music that combines mainly Eastern European and Oriental musical styles, the clarinet is often a prominent solo instrument. The style is similar to that of jazz clarinettists, the Albert system or French models are used, often with extreme vibrato and strong glissando (yelping).
Best of Klezmer - Giora Feidman
Examples of rather authentic klezmer music can be found in various places on the internet, for example at http://www.klezmer.de/mp3/mp3.html.
Turkish/ Oriental/ Indian music
Unfortunately, I know very little about this fascinating world, which is quite different from European style music (different scales, harmonies, rhythms, quarter-tone music, etc.). Their ensembles only seem simpler, but most of the music itself is by far more complex (I am not talking Turk-pop, but folk music). Emails by readers from these countries indicate that the clarinet has established itself there as well, and has taken over the role of an Aulos-like wind instrument (an oriental oboe, sometimes single reed instruments).
I am having a European (German) background, which more or less dominates the classical music globally today, like French/Italian cooking does for better restaurants and McDonald's for fast food :-(
However, I think one should also point out that many of the things that make classical music exciting and great today does come from the Orient. Nearly nothing of it is a European invention. The Catholic Church burned almost everything in Europe that didn't fit into its narrow ideology. It were the Turkish who brought diversity when they tried to conquer Europe. There is nothing wrong with a Menuett, except that the music is rather boring compared to the "Turkish Dance".
The oriental musical culture was built upon a wide mix of very old Persian, Ottoman and other cultures, who in turn preserved the heritage of antique - Greeks, Medes, Egyptians, Sumerians and many others. So ths, until the "modern" Islam some hundred years ago began to eradicate their own rich heritage and culture as well, so most of it is now not only nearly forgotten but more and more also forbidden. What we have is pieces in museums, pictures, descriptions an stories (e.g. from the pre-islamic 1001 night).
Veligegas - Dance of Epiros (Vasilis Soukas)
Turkish Clarinet (Hüsnü Şenlendirici)
Albanian Clarinet - Kaba me klarinetë (Arben Topalli)
Oriental Clarinet (Ferus Mustafov)