Below are my complete clinic notes on Etude No. 2, “The Slow Etude,” from this year’s Texas TMEA All-State Soprano Clarinet Etudes. Watch for my notes on Etudes 1 and 3 coming soon! Check out my previous posts on the all-state etudes: CLICK HERE.
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Etude Book: David Hite editor, Artistic Studies, Book 1 – From the French School, Published by Southern Music [Rose Etudes] (For official TMEA listing, click HERE.)
Note: Cyrille Rose (1830-1902) was a very important clarinet teacher at the Paris Conservatory and 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra for 34 years. Rose did not compose these etudes, but he adapted and enhanced etudes written for other instruments. He “clarinetized” them.
Etude 2, “The Slow Etude,” Andante cantabile, Page: 66, Key: A Major, Etude Title: 32 Etudes, No. 21, Play from beginning to end. Tempo: Quarter Note = 58-66, Errata: NONE
Composer and Style: This Rose etude is based on an etude by court oboist Franz Wilhelm Ferling (1796-1874) – to view the original etude, click HERE and go to Etude #33. Ferling’s “intimate knowledge of French opera” inspired him to produce this etude in the style of a Romance (cite). This excellent etude is LOADED with opportunities for emotional musical expression and creativity. THINK OPERA! Further, recall that that Rose himself was 1st clarinetist with the Paris Opera orchestra for 34 years. So, Opera, Opera, Opera! “Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve” and make the judges cry!!
Overview: Moderately slow etude in the style of Romantic Era opera with 4 major issues: Tone, “Over-The-Top” Romantic Phrasing, Rhythm, and a long Cadenza.
Sections and Phrases: Etude breaks down into 4 clear phrases: P1 = m1-m8, P2 = m9-m17, P3 = m18-m27, and P4 = m28-end.
Tempo: Unlike many of the slow Rose Etudes, I suggest performing this etude in 4 with quarter note as the beat (one quarter note = one beat). The original Ferling Etude upon which this was based (Ferling #33 – see above) was marked “Adagio” (slow), but Rose changed it to an “Andante” (a more moderate tempo). In m34 at “piu lento” perform in 8 with eighth note as the beat (one eighth note = one beat) for remainder of etude.
Musical Issues: The tempo indication, “Andante,” should be understood here as a somewhat “moderate” tempo. “Cantabile” means “singing.” (In Italian and Spanish “Cantar” translates “to sing.”) So, sing at a moderately slow tempo on your clarinet. The word, “dolce” is written at the start of the work at m1 and again at the beginning of P4 (m28). “Dolce” means “sweetly.” However, I generally think of dolce meaning “tenderly.” Dolce can have some muscle to it and is not always played at a soft dynamic – see Brahms, for example. The editor of our edition, David Hite, (who tended to overedit) added the word “placido” to dolce at m1. I suggest thinking of this as “smooth.” It is critical you understand all the terms and indications that are on the music. They clearly indicate an over-the-top operatic style of phrasing. Always play with the most beautiful tone possible. In an audition, tone quality should be considered one of the most important factors.
Rubato: Teaching and performing with Rubato is always a precarious business; however, at least some rubato is certainly called for in a number of spots in this etude. I especially suggest the use of rubato and some stringendo in m12-m14 leading up to the cadenza that starts in m15. A tip on using rubato: learn the passage straight with and without a metronome, and then add rubato. Once rubato has been added, always go back and practice it straight at times. [NOTE: ALWAYS LEARN A WORK WITH DYNAMICS, DO NOT TRY TO ADD DYNAMICS LATER!]
Problem Passages: 3 spots: m12-m14 leading up to the cadenza, the cadenza in m15–m17, and m22–m25. In m16, consider playing the chromatic passage in the cadenza as an F chromatic scale in sixteenth notes – but speed up, of course.
Technical Issues: Rhythm: There are some tricky spots: especially m2 and m29 plus m21-m25. Trills: In m22, I suggest one-note trills. This will make the make the trill/grace note figure like a turn and that is a good thing. The trills in m24 are tricky – on the first one, I suggest moving pinky and ring finger together. This will take practice, stay at it. Turns: Play the turn in m30 the way it is written out in m3. In m19, play the turn with 5 equal notes on the upbeat OR perform it the same as the trill/grace note figure of m22 (I prefer this one). Articulation: All staccatos whether with slur (m12) or not (m22) should be light and detached, not too short – use a light tongue stroke. Use your ears to adjust the lengths of the notes. Fingerings: Use fork fingering for high D# in m25. Use right C# in m33. Consider resonance fingerings in exposed throat tone spots; however, remember that good voicing is the best resonance fingering!
Scale and Arpeggio Cheat Sheet: Scales: A major, F Chromatic. Arpeggios: A major (A C# E), E major (E G# B), B7 (B D# F# A)
Breathing: As marked. Follow the phrasing as much as possible. A couple breathing spots to consider – m14 before the high D; m15 in the cadenza between the first line E and D#.
Suggested Listening: Listen to great opera like singers Natalie Dessay and Maria Callas. (I’m especially crazy about Natalie Dessay.) Here’s a few videos (click on the name): Dessay 1, Dessay 2, Dessay 3, and Callas.