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Unlike most well-known instruments, the clarinet is a recent invention, created by Johann Christoph Denner in 1690 in Nürnberg. During the late 1700s, the clarinet underwent many significant improvements and innovations under hands of talented european makers like Theodor Lotz in Vienna or Heinrich Grenser in Dresden. The cut or shape of the tone holes was experimented on to see how it will affect its sound and resonance and gradually more keys were added to allow the instrument to play technically demanding repertoire.
The sound is lighter and more intimate, with a wide spectrum of colours ranging from soft and muted to clear and trumpet-like through its three different register (chalumeau, clarion and
altissimo); this instrument also uses a wooden mouthpiece and a smaller, softer reed comparing to the modern instrument and this allows a greater flexibility in articulation and phrasing.
Playing music by Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Rossini among others, using the clarinet that these composers had in mind, will give you a unique and rewarding sense of authenticity and open your ears to a forgotten sound world!
The Historical Informed Performance is an important approach to our music making that aims to question and perhaps re-think how we perform music from a specific era. The aim is to break through to something completely new and have a deeper overview on the world of period instruments: you will get familiar with strenghts and weaknesses of historical clarinets, their sound's features and technical aspects to make them sound as genuine as possible.
Compare the same piece using the historical and modern clarinet to feel how the musical style differently applies and better understand the composer's writing. Part of your journey is to learn the musical style based on treatises like the one from Leopold Mozart or Johann Joachim Quantz or clarinet methods from the 18th and 19th century where precious tips can be found.
The Chalumeau, a simple cylindrical instrument with 8 holes and two keys, can be considered the baroque cousin of the clarinet and played a major role in the first half of the 18th century, especially in the Court of the Habsburgs in Vienna and in Darmstadt. The repertoire offers playful duets, charming Cantatas and instrumental pieces written mainly by G.F. Telemann, who was himself a talented chalumeau player and Christoph Graupner.
Recorder and Chalumeau share a lot of similarities and were contenders in the end of the 16th century, therefore if you are already familiar with the repertoire and style of playing of the Recorder, you might get challenged and inspired!
The Chalumeau's soft, velvety and intimate sound gives the feeling of singing with great spontaneity. There is nothing closer to the human voice like the Chalumeau.
It's unbelievable how such a simple instrument is capable of carrying the listener into a soundscape of rare beauty!