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Heterogeneous Clarinet Quartets

Posted by bitguru on March 1, 2008

Most clarinet quartets consist of either four sopranos or three sopranos and a bass. Don’t get me wrong. They sound great, especially the ones with basses. But I have sometimes wondered why there aren’t quartets with four different sizes of clarinets, in the manner of most saxophone quartets.

Quartetto Italiano di Clarinetti

Well, I just found one. The Quartetto Italiano di Clarinetti consists of Maurizio Morganti on E♭ soprano clarinet, Carlo Franceschi on soprano clarinet, Giovanni Lanzini on alto clarinet, and Augusto Lanzini on bass clarinet.

There are three sample MP3s on the group’s web site, so you can listen to them for free. One of those tracks, Gershwin’s Lady Be Good, sounds to me like clarinets playing the exact same saxophone quartet arrangement I’m familiar with. Not that that’s a bad thing—it’s a fine arrangement.

I do have a trouble hearing four different timbres in the sample tracks, which is seldom the case when I listen to saxophone quartets. Perhaps that’s why heterogeneous clarinet quartets are rare. Each member of Quartetto Italiano di Clarinetti does also play some soprano clarinet, so some of them may be doing so in the sample tracks. What do you think? (Please leave a comment, especially if you can think of a better term than heterogeneous.)

2 Responses to “Heterogeneous Clarinet Quartets”

  1. Dear bitguru,

    Here is the Quartetto Italiano di Clarinetti that answer to you!

    About our formation: our group plays in own concerts all the member of clarinet’s family (soprano in A e B, piccolo, alto, bassethorn, bass). Often happen that some pieces are written for 4 sopranos, or 3 sopranos and bass, or 2 soprano alto and bass, or piccolo 2 sopranos and bass etc etc. That is the first reason of our formation.

    About the timbres: different from a saxophone quartet the difference from clarinet’s timbres are less evident but a good listener can to recognize the difference between high timbre of sopranino (piccolo) and bass clarinet for example.

    Regarding our free samples: Gershwin’s sample is played by 3 soprano and bass, Farkas is played by piccolo, 2 sopranos and bass and Mozart is played by 2 soprano, bassethorn and bass. Unfortunately MP3 system cut many overtones, so it became not easy to pick up the timbric nuances. If you can to have the chance of listen one of our CD you’ll agree with me.

    Thanks for your kind attemption. All the best from Giovanni Lanzini (Quartetto Italiano di Clarinetti)

  2. Claude said

    I would like to send this post to this clarinet Quartet :


    We are a “young” clarinet/sax quartet not professional within our telecom society at Brussels.
    we are composed of
    1 cl in B/ss
    1cl in B / as / ss
    1 cl in B/A/C, bass clarinet, alto clarinet, as, C-melody ,bari sax, piano/organ
    1 bass clarinet, 1 cl in B, ts

    We are wrighting you in order to know if you should agree to send pdf copies of sheet music of your repertoire.
    We could also communicate the music pieces in our possession.

    Anyway, you can also find music free scores on :

    Thanx by advance for your feedback.

    You can answer in English/Dutch/French/Italian/Spanish.

    Claude Jacob
    c/o Il quartetto di Clarinetti di Belgacom

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