Philadelphia

I am excited to announce the newest addition to my catalogue: Philadelphia.  This design has been in the works for several years, and after much research and development I am pleased to offer it for sale.  

Listed below are a few responses from the first batch of Philadelphia models, sold in June, 2018

“Influenced by great players such as Harold Wright and Ronald Reuben, I have worked for many years to emulate the beauty of tone, warmth and flexibility they displayed playing on the legendary Henri Chedeville mouthpieces. The latest model, Philadelphia, by Ramon Wodkowski actually surpasses the vintage mouthpieces I have used in the past.“  

William Helmers – Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

*

“From the moment I first tried the Philadelphia model, I knew it was something special. It allows me to play with the depth and color I like and also to project over a large orchestra. It has served me well and I look forward to adding more to my collection! “ 

Andrea Levine – Louisville Orchestra

*

“Ramón’s new Philadelphia mouthpiece is something unique. The presence of the sound and the immediacy of the articulation is a combination I’ve been in search of for a while. It’s a genuine pleasure to need less effort to get the resonance you want to carry through the orchestra.” 

Daniel Frazelle – United States Navy Band

*

“For the past couple of years I’ve been on a quest to have a more vibrant sound and this mouthpiece is really helping with that. You were right about it helping me hear myself within the ensemble too. Such a difference! I played it right after I got it from you in our Don Carlo performance that night and the difference of sound and presence was astounding.  It has also helped me match David better as well since he had such a vibrant (beautiful) sound. Thanks for making this mouthpiece! It’s really quite amazing and I’m excited to try your future projects (and maybe get another one of these).”  

Ashley Booher – Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra

*

“Ramón’s exquisitely hand crafted mouthpieces provide the very best stability, ease of response, intonation, and projection of any mouthpiece I’ve ever used. The result of years of research, his new Philadelphia mouthpiece pays homage to the great vintage mouthpieces of the past; it possesses a beautiful sound while maintaining stable intonation and a wonderful ring and depth I’ve not encountered in any other mouthpiece. Thank you Ramón!”

John Kurokawa – Lecturer of Music, Wright State University, Principal Clarinet – Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Clarinet – Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Yamaha Performing Artist

BACKGROUND

My new Philadelphia Bb clarinet mouthpiece model is conceptually based on the style of playing and mouthpieces preferred by clarinettists from the traditional “Philadelphia” school of American clarinet playing – specifically, those who played in the Philadelphia Orchestra and exponents of the Curtis Institute of Music during the early to mid 20th century. 

8A1B839F-8A9D-4B74-9A9F-0BB1BC7269F1
Henri Chedeville circa 1920s – photo courtesy of Ed Chedeville

I have always been drawn to vintage French mouthpieces from the early part of the 20th century – in particular the mouthpieces of Lelandais, Robert, Charles and Henri Chedeville, Leroy, and Bercioux.  The work of Henri Chedeville has been of a special interest for me as his mouthpieces have such wonderful qualities – effortless response, wide palette of colours and beautiful tone.  I have been fortunate as a craftsman to have restored and refurbished dozens of Henri’s mouthpieces throughout my career, many of which are being played in major orchestras, so I am well acquainted with his work.

Henri Chedeville (1877-1931) resided in Philadelphia for a large part of his life, and his mouthpieces have been a core part of the tradition and lore of Philadelphia clarinet playing in particular.  Ralph McLane, Jules Serpentini, Donald Montanaro, Anthony Gigliotti, and Harold Wright are some who used his mouthpieces during their careers.  Thus, the name “Philadelphia” felt appropriate for this model.

CONCEPT

This model is by no means a copy or recreation of any particular mouthpiece.  I did not attempt to replicate a relic from the past, with all its unique quirks.  Rather, with modern players in mind, I aimed to harness the soul and playing qualities of the finest examples and transplant that into the body of a new mouthpiece.

Many players are still on the lifelong quest to find the grail, perfect vintage mouthpiece, which in my opinion does not exist.  They are beautiful, if in good condition and having been restored properly; however, they can be very temperamental and highly inconsistent from one to the next.  One thing to remember is they were made for a different time and standard of playing – a century of progress has passed.  Much like an old bicycle or wristwatch, one cannot expect them to compete with their modern counterparts technically, however they do carry a special aesthetic which many players (including myself) are drawn to.  Players continually come back to these old mouthpieces because of their special qualities, which are at the root of American playing – all stemming from the original concepts which were laid out for us a century ago in France, in part through the first mouthpiece designs to emerge by Bercioux, Chedeville and Lelandais at the turn of the 20th century.

I have always appreciated the beautiful response, tone, flexibility and character of these old mouthpieces and have done much study and work to bring that to life in this design (also my other models). 

SPECIFICATIONS

Close facing – approximately 1.02mm tip opening, medium length.  Other facings available on request, up to 1.1mm tip opening and longer length. 

Narrow, long chamber.

Medium French bore – many vintage mouthpieces have larger bores, which can offer attractive playing qualities, however do not tune well with modern instruments.  The Philadelphia bore is medium size, which offers a balanced tuning spectrum with most modern French bore clarinets. 

This proprietary “blank” is 100% my design, made from the finest ebonite available.  

Nearest comparison for reference – Henri & Charles Chedeville designs (1920s), A. Robert Soloist

CHARACTERISTICS

Much like the style of playing and vintage mouthpieces of the past, this design was built with a focus on projection and colour – casting the sound out through the ensemble into the orchestra hall.  Many players today employ a sound and concept that may seem attractive up close, but often lacks the momentum, overtones or resonance necessary to effectively carry beyond the ensemble.  We never know how we actually sound at a distance, which poses a challenge for clarinettists in particular. 

The quest for comfort and security with equipment is a problem today, as players often incorporate a setup that feels extremely comfortable and stable, at the expense of colour, projection and flexibility.  Philadelphia in particular is geared for maximum range and bloom at a distance, without having to force the sound or employ too hard a reed.  The great players of the past, regardless of nationality or school, all had their own way of projecting into their halls – this mouthpiece possesses a very distinct vehicle to achieve that.    

Philadelphia offers maximum response, incredible control of dynamics, from piano to fortissimo, and an extreme array of colours and flexibility.  This design is geared for maximum balance of facing curve and resistance, making it very flexible and friendly with various reed cuts and reed strengths.  Articulation is quick and clean.  

The narrow chamber structure produces a concentrated, focused tone which makes tuning and blending with others quite comfortable. The finely centred sound can easily be latched onto by others in the section and manipulated by the player due to the inherent flexibility of the mouthpiece.  

Most importantly, this design is made to play a phrase.  One of my favourite elements of mouthpiece crafting is studying how each style and make of mouthpiece is geared to play – the palette of colour on offer, flexibility – the voice.  I worked with this design for years and many incarnations until I felt it played a phrase in the way that this style of mouthpiece should – effortless, rich, luminous and beautiful.  

ORDERING

For pricing, orders and further info, please contact us at: wodkowskimpcs@gmail.com

www.ramonwodkowski.com

www.facebook.com/wodkowskimpc


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