While, by design, all of the Concours pieces test the finger dexterity of their performers, the virtuoso passage work in this piece always flows organically out of the musical ideas. The work is dedicated to Cyrille Rose, the sixth professor of clarinet at the Paris Conservatory.
Ernest Chausson was born into a wealthy family, and to please his father, he became a lawyer at the appeals court.
St Margaret's Roman Catholic Church, Twickenham
At the age of 25 in , however, he began to pursue his real love and joined the composition classes of Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatory. It was just two years later, in , that he penned the Andante et Allegro in preparation for the Prix de Rome, which he did not win. He was killed instantly in a freak bicycle accident when he apparently lost control of his bike and ran into a brick wall on his estate. After a short and rhapsodic introduction, the Andante features a rapidly rippling river of piano sound on top of which the clarinet rides, usually in unison, creating an organic sound reminiscent of the organ timbre once again.
The brilliant and extremely challenging Allegro features trumpet-like calls in the opening, echoed and then joined by the piano. As it develops and the excitement builds, we come to a brief, slow, singing middle section that leads into the development. The work closes with virtuoso fireworks for the clarinet and two huge organ-like chords as the final statement.
Henri Rabaud was, in a sense, born into the Paris Conservatory. His father Hippolyte Rabaud was professor of cello at the Conservatory, so it is natural that Rabaud studied with Jules Massenet, like Chausson before him, at the Conservatory. Rabaud won the Prix de Rome in He conducted the Paris Opera for ten years from to , and in he was engaged as conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for one year.
The Solo de Concours, Op.
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The opening is a short rhapsodic and improvisatory Renaissance-style toccata in which the clarinet plays over long pedal tones and slowly changing harmonies in the piano accompaniment. The second section is in the style of a Sarabande, a slow baroque dance in triple time with the emphasis usually on beat two. He spent 12 years at the Conservatory, but from the beginning, Debussy was pugnacious and went his own way in terms of composition.
Upon graduating from the Conservatory in , Debussy won the Prix de Rome and he went for the standard four-year residence at Villa Medici in Rome.
Solo de concours (trans Skembos)
But there is no help for it! I am too enamored of my freedom, too fond of my own ideas. It is made up of colors and rhythms. The rest is a lot of humbug invented by frigid imbeciles riding on the backs of the Masters — who, for the most part, wrote almost nothing but period music. Bach alone had an idea of the truth.
The Concours took place on July 14, and Debussy sat on the jury hearing eleven clarinet students. Mimart subsequently played the evidently inspiring official premiere on January 16, in Salle Gaveau, as it was after this performance that Debussy decided to orchestrate the work in that same year. Not only is vibrato part of the tradition, but in fact it was used by one of the most prominent proponents of the tradition see Note on Vibrato below. Interestingly, Mimart also used a double-lip embouchure with the mouthpiece positioned so that the reed was facing upwards. It seems highly unlikely that Debussy would change those two notes in the orchestral edition unless to correct an error.
When the message comes full-circle, it is often unrecognizable. Another aspect of this work that has been controversial over the years is the tempi. We know that Debussy was a stickler for tempi, and score markings in general, and he provided precise metronome markings throughout the work. Furthermore, at these tempi, it becomes virtually impossible to bring out all of the numerous and important other details in the score.
Upon graduating in composition, he won the Prix de Rome in Bozza wrote many pieces for brass and winds and his works are noted for their brilliant character, 20th century harmonies, and his deep understanding of the technical capabilities of the instruments, which he often pushes to their limits, as he does in Bucolique. A short ethereal bridge passage in the piano then leads to a clarinet cadenza in the improvisatory style.
As the last whisper of this section fades away as if on a summer breeze, Bozza delivers us a blistering Scherzo at a tempo of eighth note equals ! A student of Cyrille Rose at the Paris Conservatory, Louis Cahuzac was one of the few solo clarinetists of the early 20th century. He made several recordings throughout his long career.
While built around a song-like tune, the work is filled with virtuoso scale and arpeggio work from beginning to end. Most modern-day clarinetists and pedagogues believe fervently that vibrato should not be used at all on the clarinet, and especially not on German music such as Brahms or Mozart. There is even some good evidence from Mozart and his clarinetist Anton Stadler showing that he likely also used a healthy vibrato.
Of course, this is what one would logically expect. Vibrato has developed independently on every instrument that can vibrate in every kind of music everywhere in the world. In fact, the only kind of music that is devoid of vibrato is the early music of the church where vibrato was forbidden precisely because it introduced too many earthly connotations into the music. I have written about the subject of vibrato at length in a posting to the Klarinet mailing list klarinet woodwind. For those who are interested, a copy of it is extant at:.
In that article, I did not posit any reasons for why it is that most people prefer vibrato in music. In fact, practically to a person, everyone I have met during my lifetime, other than clarinetists who have been trained to believe the opposite, prefers vibrato to non-vibrato. I have come to believe that there are two very important reasons why vibrato is so clearly preferred by virtually everyone:.
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