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Debussy’s Rhapsodie for Clarinet and Piano

Debussy’s Rhapsodie for Clarinet and Piano is the “mother of all contest pieces,” according to clarinet player Ricardo Morales.  It was originally written by French composer Claude Debussy for the Paris Conservatory as a contest piece.

It is an extremely beautiful and nuanced composition known for its multiple levels of dynamics that go from piano to pianissimo to pianississimo to actual silence.  The challenge is playing it as both a solo for a clarient audition, but also keeping in mind that Debussy subsequently expanded it to be performed with an eighty to eighty-five piece orchestra where many of these colors would get lost if you played it as you would a solo piece.

As a clarinetist, concentrate on the colors you want to portray.  For example the beginning is piano but it is immediately followed by dolce and espressivo.  So being expressive between the B flat and the C creates a nice “shape” to the notes while maintaining the more quiet piano feel.

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The next run is marked by a piano to crescendo innuendo to a tenuto at the top of the run at A.  This means you cannot be too “boxy” with the passage it needs an open feel resolving to the final Pianissimo.

The next important nuances come in the cadenza at measures 28 and 29.  Most clarinet players get focused on the accelerando and do not pay enough attention to the articulation.  In fact the staccato at measure 29 can actually help drive the “pressing forward” feel of the accelerando.

There are so many nuances in the piece.  Fingerings often have to be changed or adapted based on how you’re blowing and the instrument you play.

Many of these fine tunings are suited to one-on-one interactions, Ricardo Morales is able to do this with students at his ArtistWorks Online Clarinet School using the combination of recorded clarinet lessons and Video Exchange.™  

 

Watch Ricardo's Free Clarinet Lessons

Related Clarinet Blogs

Find out more about online clarinet lessons with Ricardo Morales at www.ricardoclarinet.com

 

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