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 capriccio espagnol
Author: voodoosausage 
Date:   2008-06-09 02:32


Before spring juries, a friend of mine asked me to listen to some of the stuff he had prepared, including the excerpt to capriccio espagnol. When he got to the third part of the excerpt (the part on Bb), he played what I later learned is a suggestion from Peter Hadcock's book, where instead of doing 8th + 32nd sextuplet, one plays 16th + 6 32nds.

When I first heard this I thought it was trash, because to me it just sounds like cheating because the part's too damn hard. However, several other fellow players have told me that they play it that way too.

My question to you learned folk is whether or not you think this is an appropriate way to play the part (ie, in an audition), or if you have ever heard a performance of the piece in which the clarinetist did this.


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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: S. Friedland 
Date:   2008-06-09 02:39

It depends upon the conductor , and how well he hears, and how important his rhythm. At an audition however, I suggest one plays exactly as written, nothing else. Those listening to you know what it is supposed to sound like.

Sherman Friedland

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: RodRubber 
Date:   2008-06-09 03:00

I would agree. In audition preparation, many have read the Hadcock book and took it to be the holy bible or something...hadcock suggests this fingering, or whatever. I think using your ear is far more helpful. Some of Hadcock's suggestions are perhaps ill-advised. Also, i don't know when the book was written, but hadcock hasn't won an audition in the last 15 yrs.

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: Ed Palanker 
Date:   2008-06-09 03:01

It depends on the tempo the conductor takes it. If it goes so fast that the original passage is just a smear then what Hancock says is correct. If you're a principal player you should be able to play it as written if it's a reasonable tempo, as marked or just a bit faster. The old Philly recording goes so fast at the end of that movement that the clarinet player plays all the notes almost equal just to get them in. If you can play it as written, especially for an audition, of course you should do that. Just play it in the written tempo, I believe 126 to the quarter. I ask my students to listen to several recordings to hear how orchestas play it. I encourage them to listen to more then one. ESP, www.peabody.jhu.edu/457,
(listen to a little Mozart)

Dear RodRubber, the reason Hancock hasn't won an audition in the last 15 years is because he died about that long ago. He was the principal of the Buffalo Philharmonic and then assistant in the Boston Symphony, principal in the Pops. He was a great player. Went on to teach at Eastman where he passed away. Almost everything he says in his book makes sense, a few things I don't agree with but not much, and those are only difference of opinions. ESP

ESP eddiesclarinet.com

Post Edited (2008-06-09 03:10)

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: Katelyn 
Date:   2008-06-09 03:43

The capriccio can be a pain in the butt at that part, but since it's for an audition I'm with everyone above. Yes, you SHOULD be able to play it that fast, as written, because obviously it was written that way for a reason. So in a way, it seems like cheating to me, but if the director approves, it's "legal" cheating.

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: claritoot26 
Date:   2008-06-09 15:28

As difficult as it is to win an audition, it is even harder when you are deceased! When I am able to play that passage either as written or the Hadcock way, I'll start advising others about it...
Seriously, I agree with most above...try for as written at the prescribed tempo for an audition, but if the conductor at a performance goes somewhat faster, perhaps the Hadcock way is a good alternative.


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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: S. Friedland 
Date:   2008-06-09 17:01

We are all in agreement, but here is a good way to practice this part. Incidentally, the difficulty in the part is to switch from tonic to dominant arpeggiated quickly and repeatedly. So, isolate the arpeggios, learn them cold, then away you will go. Also do not ignore the trills for herein is the whole Spanish flavor, how many trills and the accents one uses.

1. Very slowly
2. Place a rest prior to the 32nds.
3. With the rest play the 32nds in time if you can.
4. Always play the 32nds fast
5. the pulse remains slow, but the 32nds fast
6. Finally, try a tempo, any tempo, but one playing what is written.
7. Only learn the part after learning to play the fast notes*

* and of course,on these one starts slowly or a playable tempo. You final assignment, (should you decide to accept) is to play this Rimsky "intime" from beginning to end. (if,at an audition they stop you midway, just go home.) I had a student who auditioned for 2nd in Toronto. He came in for a prep lesson telling me that no words would be spoken.If they rang a bell, you were out.
He played the Mendelssohn Scherzo and slightly messed the g# to B, just slightly. I said Charles, "They will stop you right here". They did.
My point is that these people know what the rep sounds like. Do not second-guess anybody at any audition.

Sherman Friedland

Post Edited (2008-06-09 18:22)

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: Ken Shaw 2017
Date:   2008-06-09 20:43

Even Marcellus didn't play the solo with a full 8th plus sextuplet 32nds, though he got close. Do it as fast as you can make it clean.

Everyone should have the Cleveland Capriccio Espagnol, which has amazing playing by RM. http://www.amazon.com/Pictures-at-Exhibition-Capriccio-Espagnol/dp/B0000CF33L

Ken Shaw

Post Edited (2008-06-09 21:19)

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: Ryder 
Date:   2008-06-09 21:17

I have a CD by Larry Combs with just him explaining and playing the excerpts from many different pieces. The Cappricio Espagnol and Sherherazade being the main ones from Rimsky-Korsakov. Listening to it, Mr. Combs says to "make sure that the 32nd note sextuplets are placed precisely on the second half of the beat." I beleive he's playing it just under tempo, but thats a conductor specific thing so..yeah. I trust Mr. Combs.

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: Tom H 
Date:   2008-06-11 22:07

Playing each of the spots with all notes even at various tempi before trying to get it all exactly as written seemed to help me.

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: skygardener 
Date:   2008-06-11 22:23

When I did a performance of this in school, I did it the 'Hadcock way.' I had no choice at the time; with my tecnique at the time it was the best I could do.
It is a cheat but you have to do what you can to get by. For audition, I would go a click slower and do it as written.

Post Edited (2008-06-12 06:11)

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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-06-12 09:57

Here's a way of going about practising this passage that some of you may not have considered. It's based on the notion that though some parts of a fast passage may call for fast finger movements, very often some parts don't.

Consider a one-octave ascending F major scale in the low register of the clarinet, played at speed. Because each finger, after it has moved, plays no further part in the scale, it is possible for the movement of EVERY finger to be slow. All that is required is that each finger begin to move SUFFICIENTLY SOON after the previous one.

Of course, theoretically the movement can't be very, very, very, slow -- otherwise you'd get a smear between notes -- but in practice that isn't a problem.

So, as I like to put it, NOTHING PHYSICAL moves fast in the playing of this 'fast' scale. (What's high in value is a 'phase velocity'.)

Now imagine turning round at the top of the scale, so that you play the throat F and then immediately the E again, beginning a fast descending scale to the low F.

What I said before about slow finger movements applies to this descending scale too -- there is no need for any finger to move fast. As before, all that is required is that each finger land on its tonehole SUFFICIENTLY SOON after the previous one.

But we see that there IS one finger that needs to move fast in a speedy version of the complete up-and-down scale: namely, LH1 -- because as soon as it has come off to produce the F, it needs to go back on again to play the E.

(Of course, I suppose LH2 can't quite take a tea-break either:-) but I think we can agree that the main finger affected is LH1.)

Now, applying this insight to the Capriccio Espagnol passage, we see that quite a lot of THAT can be played with slow fingers, too. The bits that can't involve the EGCE and ECGE over the break in the first ascending and descending arpeggios (fingers LH1 and LHT and RH3 and RH4) and the DFBD and DBFD over the break in the second ascending and descending arpeggios (fingers LH1 and RH4).

I found it interesting that the 'non-standard' second arpeggio is actually simpler: crucially LHT stays on throughout.

So, now we know which bits we can play with slow fingers, and which bits need fast and economical movement. I personally recommend using my three-note exercise:


...to practise the latter. One reason is that part of the difficulty is having the SOUND of the arpeggios under control -- the quality needs to be a 'contained' one, avoiding the smear that some players produce. The exercise helps develop the embouchure/tongue address required to achieve that containment.

Overall, I think this point of view helps psychologically as well as technically: we come to realise that the problem is 'smaller' than we thought, just by being willing to look at the situation closely.


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 Re: capriccio espagnol
Author: Tony Pay 2017
Date:   2008-06-12 13:08

I wrote:

>> ...we come to realise that the problem is 'smaller' than we thought, just by being willing to look at the situation closely.>>

Another suggestion: we can relax how we hold the whole passage -- that's the opposite of looking at it closely -- by practising two simplified versions. (It's rather like stepping back to look at a picture you're painting: you lose the detail for a moment in order to grasp the whole.)

Here are the simplified versions:



The first is perhaps trickier, but both repay study.

The time elapsed between each pair of '/'s is always a quaver, so the rhythm is quavers and triplet semiquavers.


Post Edited (2008-06-12 13:22)

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