Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend a Devon & Burgani clarinet testing day at Headwind music shop in Bristol and I found it a fascinating experience.
Devon & Burgani was founded in 1992 by Odivan Santana, starting out with the production of 13-key clarinets and bass clarinets. After sixteen years of building up experience, a new partnership was formed with renowned professor and clarinettist Sergio Burgani. Together they created the first professional clarinet model ever to be built in Brasil, the OSII. Personally I felt attracted to these clarinets because of the different selection of woods they offer:
- Aroeira – Brasilian lighter brown wood. This is the least dense wood.
- Conduru – Brasilian red wood (or blood wood). The density of this wood sits right in between aroeira and grenadilla.
- Grenadilla – African black wood. The most dense wood.
If curious about these variety of woods, feel free to watch the following video showing how they make D&B clarinets by clicking here.
These selection of woods become one of the main feature of Devon & Burgani clarinets. It is quite remarkable how different outcome these woods can have in each clarinet player. When I tried these clarinets I could notice which wood suited me best but at the same time I found it very difficult to put into words the difference in sound between these woods. Likewise, some of my students tried these clarinets and I could see that, maybe because of their way of blowing or their equipment (mouthpiece, reed, ligature), they all experienced a different outcome regarding wood preference.
Devon & Burgani has recently released a new professional model, the Fluency. This new model has a revolutionary register key concept that brings an extra flexibility in the sound, as well as a better intonation to the clarinet. Before last Saturday I had never seen any other Bb clarinet with this mechanism so I was very curious to try these clarinets.
After testing it for a few minutes I was very impressed with the Fluency model. The mechanism was a bit different, especially the left thumb, as the ring under the register key has been divided into two parts to cooperate with the mechanism of the double-register key (see pictures below). It took a few seconds for my fingers to get used to it, but then I started to experience greater easiness in the blowing and flexibility in the sound when playing repertoire from various style periods. That wood was allowing me to easily change colour in the sound, as well as getting more power when needed and achieving a beautiful tone in both forte and piano dynamics. Tuning-wise I must say that the new mechanism with the double register key was giving much more accuracy around the throat notes and middle register notes, without influencing the pitch of other notes. Even the altissimo register was very accurate in tuning and effortless to get the top notes.
Therefore, if you haven’t done it yet, I would definitely recommend you to try these clarinets. I would be very interested to hear your opinion about these different woods so please feel free to share your comments below!