Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cristo Barrios

Performing a transcription of a well-known soprano aria (Juliet's Waltz) from Charles Gounod's Romèo et Juliette, clarinetist Cristo Barrios captures the essence of the piece through his expressive phrasing and beautiful tone in this relatively unknown YouTube video. Born in 1976 on the island of Tenerife (the largest of the Canary Islands), Barrios has won many international competitions and has held engagements across Europe and abroad as a recitalist and chamber musician. Barrios' interest in contemporary music has led to his premiering of several new works for the clarinet.

On Barrios' personal website (in both English and Spanish) viewers can find his biography, repertoire list, contact information, and his current performance schedules. Listen to more of his superb playing on the video and audio clips of solo and chamber works posted in the "Download" section of his homepage.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bass clarinet altissimo fingerings

As anyone who plays or teaches bass clarinet knows well, altissimo fingerings for bass clarinet can be quite confusing. The standard B-flat fingerings work sometimes, but not in all situations. Some fingerings may even work on one bass but not speak at all on another.

This page from the website of Terje Lerstad is a great resource for anyone dealing with these issues. Lerstad has posted an article he and Thomas Aber wrote for The Clarinet entitled "Altissimo Register Fingerings for the Bass Clarinet," as well as an article by Lerstad about altissimo fingerings for contrabass and contra-alto clarinet. Both of these articles are accompanied by fingering charts.

One issue that the articles explain well is the difference between the double and single register vent systems, and their effect on altissimo fingerings for the low clarinets. Because student horns often have only a single register vent, certain categories of fingerings will not work as well for them. Other fingerings work great for single-vent horns, but not double. The charts differentiate these by adding an "S" under fingerings that work for double-vent horns (most Selmer and Buffet basses) and an "L" under those that work for single-vent horns (older Leblancs and others). These articles and fingering charts would be worthwhile for any bass clarinet player or teacher to explore.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Vincent J. (Jimmy) Abato

A counterpart to the recent article on Vincent J. (Jimmy) Abato published in the June 2008 issue of The Clarinet, a web site created by Adam Michlin pays homage to the exceptional clarinetist, bass clarinetist, and saxophonist. As a performer and teacher who inspired many, Abato was celebrated for his bass clarinet playing in the New York Metropolitan Opera, his classical saxophone recordings, and his career as a teacher of clarinet and saxophone at Julliard. Tributes to Abato in Michlin's web site include a reprint of the June article and additional narratives by friends and former students -- showing just how dearly he was admired and cherished by those around him. The site also contains audio files, which provide a modest sample of his talent on both clarinet and saxophone, and Michlin has collected various images of Abato that offer viewers a glimpse into his world. Vincent J. Abato (1919-2008) undoubtedly left a tremendous mark on the musical world of clarinetists and saxophonists alike.