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These are a rare and unique pair of J Hammerschmidt & Sohne clarinets which are a commission sale for Clarinets Direct, having been owned and played most recently by a Dutch professional. These instruments have an excellent Provenance, having been originally owned and customised by the late John [Jack] McCaw. John was a leading exponent of the "English" school of clarinet playing, notable for his exceptional tone, and expression. He started his long career as Principal Clarinet of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra and became their Principal Clarinet, before leaving to join the New Philharmonia [later the Philharmonia] as Principal Clarinet, a post he retired from in 1989. As those fortunate enough to study with him well remember, John was always concerned that a clarinet be tuned as accurately as possible.
These instruments have been much customised. What follows is an accurate a description as can be managed without actually having a detailed schedule of work from Jack. Nearly every tone hole has been partly filled with shellac, and, in most cases, further undercutting has been done. The bore has been reduced in the area of the bottom of the lower upper joint, in order to correct the tuning of C#/G#. The flare at the bottom of the lower joint has also been reduced to aid in tuning the lowest pitches. The length of the lower joint of the A clarinet has been increased by some 3mm by means of a wooden insert and lengthened tenon ring, see photo 7.
The Bb has matching serial nos. 1201. The wood is in good condition throughout, for an instrument which has seen such heavy use. However there is a tight hairline crack to the top of the lower joint, it does not go through to the bore or near a tone hole. In addition to the makers stamp the instruments are stamped "Pro Arte Musica". The German Silver key work is in very good condition, with no discernable wear. The instrument has Pisoni Premium Deluxe tan leather pads, which are in excellent condition throughout.
The A has matching serial nos. 1202. The wood is in good condition throughout, with no cracks or damage. The German Silver key work is in very good condition. The instrument also has very good condition Pisoni Premium Deluxe tan leather pads throughout.
The supplied m'piecec is an Eaton 926 which of similar type to the m'piece John McCaw used with the pair. The case is a modern Yamaha in good used condition. These instruments were used by John in his exemplary recording of the Holbrooke Quintet with the Delme String Quartet, issued by Blenheim records.