Ridenour Libertas RE-5
In early June 2014, I was able to visit Tom Ridenour's shop for the second time.
I got a chance to test the Libertas clarinet, and compare that with my Lyrique 576-BC from Ridenour. The Libertas clarinet is not just a new name for the Lyrique 576 clarinet. These two clarinets play differently. I felt that my Lyrique played more freely and has a more open less-focused sound in the lowest register. In contrast I felt the Libertas was more focused but less warm. Tom characterized the Lyrique as being more ‘agile’. However the Libertas is more ‘secure’. He said that he can do things on it that he can't do on the 576.
There are differences in tuning— although very slight, between them. For instance, the high notes (on which I tend to be flat) on the Lyrique 576 will be higher on the Libertas. A significant difference was that the right hand notes on the Libertas are more ... something, … more solid or fluid, maybe. Tom likes how the full fingering for high F doesn't have stuffiness, but speaks easily and can be played at all volume levels.
Both clarinets are EXCELLENT and CONSISTENT. I found out that the Lyrique 576 is patterned after the Leblanc wooden VSP— a model designed by Tom that hardly saw the light of day. However the Libertas follows the design of the Leblanc Concerto which Tom designed. Perhaps the most useful comparison was this: Tom said that if he was playing professionally he would want both clarinets and use them for different purposes. He would use the Lyrique for chamber music, and the Libertas for symphonic/large ensemble work.