Maurice Ravel - Daphnis and Chloe, Suite 2

Final two pages video

This technically and musically difficult piece is frequently performed, on virtually every audition, and warrants considerable practice. Maintaining your skills on this piece will ultimately payoff as less work than re-learning it from scratch every time you need to. Older parts are full of mistakes, so get the new edition, though there may still be some discrepancies.

The suite begins at dawn, with the sun only rising at 157. Your first entrance must be on time, without accent, smooth, and very soft. Practice entering this way. The 32nd notes should be thought of as two groups of 6, though breaking them into other units and practicing them unevenly as well as evenly will help you make the runs smooth. Play with your left-hand pinky D-flat key down the whole time. Support a lot to avoid bumps across the break. Watch the conductor because you will be constantly surprised by the changes in tempo they will make during your runs! The cresc. into 157 must be gradual, overwhelming, and glorious. Don't dim. until marked. 158 is a duet with the strings - be expressive.

Then follows a series of dodecatuplets that are of only moderate difficulty until 163. I like to use 3rd partal C-sharp (left-hand first finger only) for all but the last one, and "open" D for all but the first and last one. 164 is soli clarinets and you will have to play at least mf. 165 is difficult - use "open" D for the 5th note of each run in the first two bars, and for every D in the third bar. Don't forget the cresc. in the second bar! More runs of moderate difficulty lead to the measure before 168. I like to use "side" D for the third note of these runs. There will be a rit. at the barline, so you can use "regular" (5th partial) D here, but use "side" again for all other Ds at 168.

There are exposed solos at 170 and 171. Use your clarinet-extreme dynamics to make these moments special. Before 175, don't try to start this solo too softly - it's an expressive gesture, and it'll make the attack easier. The Danse générale begins at 194 and is very fast. Typical performances run at quarter-note equal to 176, but I have performed it anywhere from 144 to 192! Be prepared for anything. At an audition, play at a conservative 168. After a while, you'll get a feel for the 5/4 rhythm, but until then, count attentively. The figure at 196 is exposed, and this rhythm is repeated often. Play real triplets on the first two notes, not dotted-eighth and sixteenth. Dim. slightly on the half-note, and be precise off the tie, crescendo-ing to the next measure. Always play this dynamic arc for this gesture, whether or not it is marked, though you may need to vary its intensity depending on context. The first big solo comes at 201, in answer to the E-flat clarinet. Play absolutely in time, and in one gesture. It is easy to rush the 16th notes at the end of the figure, shorten the first 16th note, or elongate the rest. Make sure there is one continuous dim., to make it gestural and French. Imitate this dynamic arc slightly even when this figure is f and the dim. is not marked. Play pp at the fourth bar, and support well when crossing down the break. Use "side" C-sharp at the end of the measure, but otherwise chromatic fingerings. Again use "side" D-flat right before 202. Pay special attention to the rhythm at 203 - it is easy to rush the 5th beat, be imprecise with the tie, or rush the first two notes of beats 1 and 4. Make sure to play the accent on the D.

The entrance two before 205 is difficult to be precise with. Listen to the strings and jump on this "moving train" in the right place. You may need to modify your dynamic depending on the orchestra and conductor. As always - be flexible. Passages at 207 are exposed. Dynamics at 208 should be extreme. Try to play from before 208 to 210 in one breath, but if you can't, breathe in the 5th or 6th bar after 209. Better one big breath than two small ones.

The most common passage on auditions is the last two pages. Lots of people can play the notes, so make sure you can too!, but fewer people will play the dynamics and the music. Set yourself apart by doing so. Make sure you start pp, and paying attention to the rhythm and dynamics as discussed earlier. Don't breathe at 214 - you'll be late. Breathe in the second bar, and play p in the third so that you have contrast for the 4th. Get your voicing under control so that you never play an A for an E or vise-versa at 215. Beginning in the 3rd bar, play one relentless cresc. At 216, don't accent beats of 16th notes, but do put a mental tenuto on the first note of each group to avoid rushing or playing the first note too short. Use 3rd partial C-sharp three before 217 and three after, third beat. Before 218, use first finger right-hand G-sharp (called "fave" in my technique essay fingering chart, where you can find most of these fingerings).

Avoid crossing the break at 219 by using "side" C-sharp. For the very high run, get creative with your fingerings to make the passage easier. Using my terms: C#-G, 7th partial (chromatic) A-flat. The second beat is "side" G, and you may have to lightly tongue the A, or use a low-F-sharp right-hand resonator (if it's not too sharp), to help it pop out. Practice the rhythm at 220 carefully and frequently - it is often played wrong. Practice both with a metronome and recordings. Absolutely play the pp three before 221. Use "fave" G-sharp at 221, and play 16th notes in the final bars - as marked. This is not a trill.