Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The long awaited Leitzinger contra "bocals" (crooks) arrive and an afternoon of London Leitzinger fun

When I first wrote about my adventures with Leitzinger crooks many years ago Stephan Leitzinger had talked about producing contrabassoon crooks too. Today the information went live on the Leitzinger website! http://www.leitzinger.de/en/ins_nav_02b.html

I have used a variety of crooks on my Mollenhauer contra in search for an even scale and wide dynamic range and have had some success but always with some compromises, so I would often ask him “when can I have a contra bocal?!”. I am sure I was not alone in my nagging, knowing that his bassoon crooks had made my life so much easier on my pre war Mollenhauer, bassoon then on my 13000 series Heckel and now on a Leitzinger bassoon. Of course that usually led me to the question “when are you going to build a Leitzinger contrabassoon?!” but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! (We live in hope).

My http://www.reedrage.co.uk/ colleague Alex were like kids in a toy shop in November when Stephan Leitzinger came with a box of prototype contra crooks. We tried them on our respective instruments and the transformation was so obvious from both player and listener that neither of us would give them back and bought them that day! 

Stephan Leitzinger at work whilst we tried contra crooks

Alex trying Leitzinger contra crook and tuner stays rock solid!

There was one condition though - we couldn’t talk about them until the information went public and live on the Leitzinger site. So here we are in April and I can mention them here.

Me trying a beautiful new Model 1 - now the property of a young and brilliant UK player who tried it after me!

Back in November after doing our Reed Rage set at the Big Double Reed Day on this new crook I came home and tried it no a variety of reeds and there was definitely some adjustments to be made to how I was blowing. I was so used to the infamous tenor register on the older Mollenhauer wanting to croak and go flat that I found I had acquired some interesting embouchure habits up there…it took me a while to realise that I could actually stay “open” and sing and blow as I would want to and that this register is a LOT more stable now. Sure it took some fiddling with reeds as it does when changing crooks on a bassoon, but I was impressed by the dynamic range and the ease in playing.

A few months on and I have now had a chance to play it in a major UK symphony orchestra at the Barbican and find that it does what it says on the tin - the pianissimo moments were not scary and the fortissimo moments could be done on the same crook and reed. Once again it’s not until you really get in the hot seat that you see how it all hangs together. I will be interested to hear the recording when it comes out as I haven’t had a chance to be the listener at a distance yet.

With Alex on her Amati contra this new contra crook created a difference that was even more pronounced than on my instrument. It really expanded the sound and stability of “Bertha” and she has been enjoying compliments from other players where she also has been keeping the Leitzinger contra crook change a secret.

Too late! Alex won't let go of the contra crook.

Hopefully when Stephan Leitzinger comes to UK again the summer he can bring some with him for others to try. 

Leitzinger Bassoon Afternoon 31st March in London

I had hoped Stephan would be able to bring some contra crooks with him when he came at the end of March but there were several important things to attend to first for this visit. The priority was the delivery of a brand new Professional Model 1 to UK player Richard Jacklin. As you can see from the photos both player and maker were very happy with the result and everyone seemed to be in matching blues to fit the Leitzinger brand and website!

Advice on how it all fits together

Richard takes delivery of his new bassoon

After Richard had gone (taking his new bassoon with him) I invited other UK players to come and try his bassoons and crooks. We had a room at the City of London boys school where I teach and this worked well (as the school holiday had already started) and we spread out in the music block for players to come and try new bassoons and find crooks to match their existing instruments. Efforts to make time slots for people didn’t really work as those who came stuck around and others came early until we had five players blowing at the same time.

But it was a great day and those who went home with Leitzinger crooks have emailed to say they are more than happy with their new toys!

If you want to know when the next Leitzinger day in London is then email me via http://www.tomhardybassoon.com/contact.php