L. Prokop Chrudim
Thanks to Zach Gurney for giving me the opportunity to review this great vintage Albert system clarinet.
Ladislav Prokop, 1874-1936, was the second by that name. According to Zach’s information, Ladislav II was a violin maker like his father. Ladislav II opened an instrument store in Chrudim, Czechoslovakia, during the late 1800's to the early 1900's. I suspect that this instrument was a stencil actually manufactured by another maker, perhaps Kohlert. But the keys would seem odd for that maker and the time period.
It is fascinating to me that Ladislav III was also a violin maker, and Ladislav IV is now resides in London and is making fantastic instruments. Ladislav IV was kind to answer my question about the maker of this clarinet:
We used to be a major musical instrument shop in the past, of course, as we were enemy of working class , the business was nationalised(stolen) in 1948.
I think the brass and woodwind instruments were made in Kraslice - Graslitz and Markneukirchen , just across the border . Region famous for it's instrument production till this day.Amati Kraslice.
I am not sure about the maker , or company, there are probably some records in the accounting books of my grand grand father but my father gave most of the documents to local museum,as my family is part of the town's history.
My best regards
And Ladislav very generously sent me the catalog from the family business during the time their shop was in business and selling clarinets! See the pictures below of the clarinet-related pages. Now, if only I could read the language, it would be really interesting!
Serial # none found
Bore LH joint top: 14mm
Bore LH joint at bottom: 14mm Narrow straight cylindrical bore
Intonation results taken when playing loud and not lipping. See how to interpret these results on the Model Comparison Page.
For this test, using the bundled mouthpiece and the original barrel, I pulled 3.75 mm at the barrel, and 0 mm at the center tenon.
I didn’t use tuning rings, which would have helped the low Bb throat tone.
The bundled mouthpiece made my 3 ¾ Legere Signature reed play like a 2 ½ reed. But even with the gap and that mouthpiece, clarinet was amazingly in tune. I didn’t bother to try to play high with that combination.
Intonation summary: This is pretty incredible intonation for a straight bore instrument! It is instructive that narrow and straight bore instruments could be so well in tune. It seems that we clarinet players have NOT done ourselves favors by insisting on wider bore instruments! The narrow bore gives nice response, and a beautiful tone for chamber music. I was not able to do a better intonation test because the original barrel is not wide enough for my mouthpieces. But tested with one of my barrels (58mm), I still got very nice results. The sharp Chalumeau D is the only issue that would need to be watched in playing. The Bb throat tone is a bit flat, but can be played in tune. And the bit of flatness would disappear when playing softly. Using tuning rings would also make the flatness disappear.
The rings enable one to use forked fingerings, but neither the Eb or Bb forked fingerings are as good as using the special keys for that purpose. The forked fingerings are not as good as some Albert system clarinets I have played.
Key work quality: This is quite odd key work. Note that the A throat tone key closes a little tiny hole below that round tab. Likewise, below that, the Eb key closes another little hole via that round tab. The register key depresses a little lever that comes around to close the top ring. If its purpose is to lower the Bb throat tone, it is doing its job well. Note that the C# has a little lever allowing one to use the right hand first finger for trills. There are four rollers. The rings are wide and comfortable.
The key work is chrome plated and probably somewhat inferior metal, but sturdy enough because the keys are quite thick. I had to do just a little bending, and I held my breath, because I think this stuff would break if too much pressure is applied.
It is odd to me that this clarinet has a blend of early and late characteristics. The chrome plated keys is a sign of its being made in the early 1900’s, but the clarinet uses pins instead of rod screws, like clarinets 100 years earlier. It only has 4 pivot screws. Another early characteristic is the terrible shallow salt-spoon-shaped pad cups. These pad cups are much better for very forgiving leather pads (like the very old pads I found on it), rather than the modern Valentino pads I used.
This clarinet is most appropriate for a collector. This is an interesting collector item, and a very good playing one!
Condition issues noted: There are some springs that might give problems. There was a hairline crack below the thumb rest. I suspect the barrel may have been shortened, and getting a longer barrel and one that would accept a modern mouthpiece would be helpful.