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Review of the Lars Mlekusch mouthpieces for plastic Legere reeds

Sep 30

By our correspondent, Ties Mellema of the Amstel Quartet

In 2011 I received an email from saxophonist Lars Mlekusch that his new mouthpieces were released and produced by Playnick. I try a lot of new mouthpieces that come out, but this one caught my special interest right from the beginning. The mouthpiece is produced especially for Legere plastic reeds! Some years ago I tried Legere plastic reeds and this was the first time I actually felt that plastic reeds could be the future, in my lifetime. But they weren't quite there yet, from my standpoint at least (please put this last remark after every opinion you read below :-)

When Mr. Mlekusch announced his new ML1 and ML2 mouthpieces I was very excited. Could this mouthpiece be the missing link? Could this mean no more hassle with wooden reeds anymore?! I'd give a lot to have to miss the troubles of dealing with wooden reeds.
Mr. Mlekusch is an excellent player himself. If anyone could design such a mouthpiece and endorse it, it would be him.
I replied to the email and tried to order some samples at Playnick. This took some time, and I heard nothing anymore. Apparantly, I heard from somebody else, they had to wait for a new batch of Legere reeds. But after some months I decided to email again. Now somebody else emailed me back and some weeks later I had the package in the mail, with some Legere reeds in different strenghts. When they get around to do it, they do it well!
Initially, I wanted to just go ahead and choose the best one from four mothpieces they send. So I started practicing on the best mouthpiece-reed combination I found. It was after my holidays so I figured I might as well play on a different set up because I had to get back in shape anyway. And I remember the revelation when I played my friend's and colleague's, Gordan Tudor, LM1 when I was in Croatia: that was a great moutpiece reed combination. The sound was a bit flat and somewhat uninspiring. But I remember myself having the same opinion about the AL3 and not using the first two years after I bought it. When I actually started practicing on it within some months I found my own sound again on the AL3. Which was worth it, the AL3 makes my life so much easier now: more good reeds, better legato, easier articulation (except for staccato, that's harder) and intonation.
Well, to not make this a review about the AL3: after some days of practicing on the LM1 with 2 3/4 reeds in August I decided to go back to my own set up for my upcoming solo concert. This was quite a disappointment... But I couldn't do it. First of all, There are very large differences between the mouthpieces, probably due to the type of production (this is the same with Selmer, because of the production process, all the mouthpieces they make are very different, which can be an advantage!), as opposed to Vandoren, which is more constant in quality. I am sure Mr. Tudor's mouthpiece was much better (for me) and this was what I was expecting. I had an important solo recital coming up the next week and in spite of my wish to play this on the LM1 with plastic reeds, I had to go back.
I had my students try the samples and now one student plays the LM1 with 2 3/4 reeds and he sounds great on it, better than on his AL3. But for me, the LM1 (the samples I received from Playnick!) were too flat in sound. I guess they passed the border of giving up 'personality' and 'character' (like I felt I had to do with the AL3) to be able to play more easy.

I hope Mr. Mlekusch will keep developing these mouthpieces and listen to feedback. As well as Legere. I will not hesitate a minute when the time is there to switch to plastic reeds. And it will be within my lifetime! Reed my lips :-)

 

Lars Mlekusch plays Hiroyuki Itoh: The Angel of Despair II