Yamaha YCR-8335 Xeno Cornet3-Mar-2008
Paula Russell on the Yamaha YCR-8335 Xeno Cornet
This was the first time I had played more than a few notes on the Xeno which I think was a good thing as I held no preconceptions and went in with an open mind.
I have been spoilt a bit (I think) in that my current cornet is one of the old Boosey and Hawkes “Sovereigns”, although I had been through some of the inconsistency nightmares that were the Besson Sovereigns over the last decade - a bit of a pot luck affair.
I tried the yellow, gold brass and silver plate YCR 8335 Xeno Bb Cornets and am aware that the cornet comes with the David King signature mouthpiece, however on this occasion I chose to use my own plastic top Denis Wick 4.
My initial thoughts before I had even played a note were that the feel of the cornet was very familiar to me. It had a nice weight about it yet not too bell heavy as I used to find with the Maestro and this was not surprising to me considering who was involved in the design process - this reminded me of the instrument I already use.
Build quality is excellent.
I have small hands and as such have struggled a little sometimes with the triggers on my cornet so it was a nice surprise to me that the Xeno is more compact and that triggers are closer to the valve block and have a smaller mechanical action. This will obviously mean less hindrance during performance, both in terms of physical grip and mechanical movement.
Valves usually make or break of a cornet in my opinion. I don't like to make too many comparisons but the best way I think I can describe the Xeno's valves is somewhere between a Bach Stradivarius Cornet (due to the weightier tops/caps) and a Boosey Sovereign Cornet (because of the slick but heavy movement) - this is a very good thing by the way. The quality of build was very evident here - on playing, the valves were extremely free moving, balanced but with some definite 'meat' behind them (just enough weight). They seemed to have a very quick response and supple movement despite the extra weightiness to them.
On first playing I was very impressed with the free-blowing experience it gave me and the excellent response in all registers. Tuning was accurate in all registers with probably a little less trigger/s needed around the D/C# below the stave than I would normally have to use. Having never been a fan of the tuning slide trigger found on the Besson Prestige and used to adjusting tuning through myself and not the instrument, it was good to find a cornet where minimal adjustments were needed.
Dynamic control was especially enjoyable and I lost no responsiveness in both the upper and lower ends of the scale. I had to work less in the smaller dynamics to achieve quality production/sound than I have been used to.
My personal preference of the two model cornets is the yellow brass. I found that this gave me a larger sound with an added brightness suitable for soloists/principal cornets whereas the Gold brass would, in the right hands, give a back row of cornets a wall of sound – very large and with much substance. In-fact – after playing on the Xeno my cornet felt 'small' afterwards.
The response was just as good on both but the yellow brass gave me an added clarity of sound and with a bit more time, I'm sure, allow me to mould it into something I could be truly proud of.
I also found it easy to change my playing to allow for different styles and genres. I look forward to experimenting more with the tonal qualities that the cornet will allow. Clarity through technique and flexibility was also evident.
Overall, I found it to be an excellent cornet and one that could take my playing to another level.
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Howard J Evans
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Conductor, composer, arranger, tutor and pianist