Links and samples - why no full recordings to download?
You can write a lot about music, but reading can not replace listening. On this page you can link to samples of important or just popular clarinet works at Amazon's MP3 files, some links point to YouTube videos.
There would be enough space on www.the-clarinets.net and MP3 in good quality is fairly compact. Today's download speeds make it possible to load even fullscale videos. But then there is the legal problem: Until the composer is not dead for more than 70 years, you must pay fees to syndicates (like the German GEMA). That is: 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 Amazon's MP3 Library, where you can hear the most important snippets (well organized) and to Youtube (storing an overwhelming mass of videos, some of excellent quality - depending on your bandwidht). 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 one - have got excellent classical CD collections).
Do you miss any recording? I'd like to receive eMail from you with suggestions!
Most clarinet music you hear is composed; only a small part - like Jazz or some folk music, e.g. Klezmer - will be improvised. Some of those compositions are important, famous milestones for clarinet music and therefore well known even to a wide public, like Mozart's and Weber's clarinet concertos, the beginnning of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue or "the cat" in "Peter and the Wulf". Others are hardly ever played in radio but still interesting. You find the best known parts listed by composer in chronological order.
Clarinet concerto in A: most popular of all, 3 movements:1st movement, Allegro - on YouTube: Sharon Kam (Video)
2nd movement, Adagio - on You Tube: "Vienna's Ladie's Philharmony" (Video)
3rd movement, Rondo - Amazon: Jack Brymer
Clarinet quintett in A: KV 581
Clar. concerto Nr. 1 f-major 73: Sabine Meyer, © EMI, 3 movements:
(unfortunately the sample of the first movement is without clarinet)
Sonata Nr. 1 in f (4 movements) und Sonata Nr. 2 in E-flat (3 movements)
Improvised music - like Jazz or some folk music, e.g. Klezmer - is not or at least not fully composed. Therefore the interpret or at least the original interpret becomes more prominent than the interpret in classical music.
In Jazz you can see a change of the clarinet's role in the ensembles over time: In early jazz which was played with small ensembles, equipped with simple instruments from military marching bands, the clarinet was the second melody instrument next to the trumpet. This is true for all traditional jazz bands that evolve from the dixieland style, like Armstrong's and Benny Goodman's. In Glen Millers Big Band clarinets even replaced the trumpet, but that was an exception. The more modern the jazz becomes, the more likely the clarinet is replaced with saxophones.
Klezmer is the jewish folk music style that developed in eastern Europe by assimilating eastern European, Gipsy- and oriental style music. Here the clarinet often is a prominent solo instrument. The technical style is similar to the that of a jazz musician, extreme vibrato, slurring and glissando being common elements. The genozid during the second world war has nearly fully destroyed the roots of this music, but it was revived and the style is now becoming increasingly popular not only in jewish communites.
You find excellent authentic Klezmer music in the internet, for example at http://www.klezmer.de/mp3/mp3.html ... says our reader Ulrich Heimberger. I do agree with that, but some of those pages display a politically difficult content (e.g. publishing hate messages on palestinians, supporting Jewish Settlers in Palestine etc.).
Turkish Music / Oriental Music / Music from India
I know too little to write about this music which is very different from traditional European style music (there are different harmonic scales, quarter tones etc.), but I receive mails from these countries that tell me that the clarinet has made it into their native music, too.
As western European I think I should call into memory that most of the exciting things we have today in western style music and our orchestras are basically things we learned and adapted from these Oriental - especially the Turkish - musical style. Without the Turkish we might still have just a string set and some brass. Oriental music is well worth exploring it, you find a lot about it in the internet.