Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mouthpiece Review: Pomarico Crystal 1 and 1L (c. 1999)

When I played Buffet R13s, these mouthpieces were my bread and butter for pops concerts and jazz--in fact, they were the only mouthpieces I ever ran across that would smooth out the sound of an R13 to the point of giving a decent masquerade of the old Selmer sound.

Pomarico 1 and 1L crystal mouthpieces, c.1998

They also perform well on the classical repertoire. The darker, more used looking cork to the left is the Pomarico 1, on which I won my first professional audition. The 1L was bought as a backup, and despite the difference in facing length (I'm fairly sure "L" stood for "long" in the old Pomarico nomenclature, which has since been replaced by various gems and other symbols) it plays and responds similarly. The old Pomarico 1s were roughly equivalent tip opening to the current "Nigun" models. [ Readers of The Jazz Clarinet should note that I don't play stereotypically open "jazz" facings, but tend to medium/medium close facings.]

I'm not one who thinks crystal mouthpieces sound in any way "brighter" than hard rubber, acrylic, or wood mouthpieces. Depending on reed selection and embouchure, they can actually sound much denser, smoother, and less "bright" to my ear.

These mouthpieces yield a very consistent and uniform sound to all registers of the clarinet. This was particularly helpful when playing the R13, which was never an easy experience for me in terms of timbre. The dynamic range is very good, especially at the soft end of the spectrum, holding the sound shape firmly while producing the lightest pianissimo. At maximum volume, they resisted distortion, but also lack the type of 'jump' or 'shout' that can be gained with a Selmer C85.

Articulation is solid, but not quite as crisp as can be attained on other mouthpieces.

These mouthpieces are highly recommended for those playing instruments with timbre-control issues. For mellowness, the Pomarico concept is really quite extraordinary, and is what I most associate with them.  They really are a smooth ride and quite enjoyable to play.

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