I will only mention this instrument in passing. It is pitched a minor second below the E-flat Clarinet and theoretically forms a pair with the smaller E-flat (akin to the relationship between the B-flat and A Clarinets). However, in the US, the D Clarinet is almost non-existent. Its use in Europe is more common, but still rare. Traditionally, it has been said that its home is “east of the Rhine.”Many of the most famous E-flat Clarinet parts in the orchestral literature are actually for the D Clarinet (Til Eulenspiegel). It has been said that the sound of the D Clarinet is somewhat sweeter than the E-flat, and the few instances where I have heard a true D Clarinet, I have found this to be the case.
One last note on the D Clarinet: it is the original size of clarinet from the Baroque Era. All early music for the clarinet is for the little D Clarinet. The other sizes, including the B-flat, came later. How ironic is it that we may lose the sound of the original clarinet.
Til Eulenspiegel. The Berlin Philharmonic is one of the few orchestras where we can be almost guaranteed that a D Clarinet will be used over the more traditional E-flat.
A baroque concerto for D Clarinet by Molter (1743). One of the few original pieces for clarinet from the Baroque era.