Ottorino Respighi - Pines of Rome

Third Movement video

On nearly every audition, this piece contains some of the longest clarinet solos in standard repertoire. The third movement begins with a piano cadenza. Then the clarinet enters, representing a nightingale. The amount of freedom you have will vary considerably with each conductor's taste and tempo. I prefer rather more rubato than less, while preserving the rhythmic relationships. At an audition, be strictly in time, except on the 16th note throat As which can stretch a little to make an espressivo interval. Resonate your throat As to make them match the color of the high notes. Be SUPER legato. Support a lot, especially across the breaks. Subdivide 16th notes. The marking "espressivo e dolce" is contradictory usually, but here it makes sense. This is lento but still a quarter note pulse. Be expressive, but don't drag. Come in sogno. Tempos usually vary from 46-52.

Enter pp, but quickly grow to p. Put a tenuto on the first note, and be expressive across the barline. Play a full p and have some nuance. I like to linger and decay a little on the syncopated half- and quarter-note. Fade long and completely on the whole-note, then make the next entrance noticeably softer, at pp with an emotional echo. Play more simply, and start your dim. At the beginning of the last full bar. Count carefully, and make your third entrance like your second: pp but grow, as this is the only one with a cresc. This way, Respighi has set up the often-heard and very-useful Normal, Echo, Most-expressive way of phrasing. When you reach the half-note middle D in the third phrase, it should sound like home, since it is harmonically. Warm up the sound and don't get too soft. Take a big breath after the tie in the next bar, then cresc. to the high D. I like to put a sub. piu p on that D to enable an even larger cresc. Continue the cresc. across the barline and down to the B. Dim. slightly on the run, the put a cresc. on the low B so that you can lean into the suspension on the next bar. Be careful not to go too sharp or not project while diminuendo-ing on the low E. The second clarinet will play this figure after you, and should be softer than you.

After 14, you are once more fully in the spotlight. The directions are clear: tenuto, dolcissimo, un poco animato, crescendo. You can stretch the tenutos without dragging the tempo if you begin the note early. This also helps create some passion on the notes. One and a half measures before 15 should be f not mf and play fairly freely on the descent, stretching the last interval with a rich low E. This is a written-out ritardando and the relationship between the various rhythmic values shouldn't be apparent.

Play a big dim. 2 after 16, and at the end of the following phrase. Since the high E is an overtone of the long B, it is easy to have a portamento between them. Don't.

The coda is all you. Avoid sharpness by pulling out during the piano cadenza. After it, enter audibly, but ppp, quasi fermata. Swell only to pp. Play slower - about 40. Breathe if you must where marked, and observe the hairpin dim. Fade as only a clarinet can, but with excellent control so it's spread evenly over this 20-second note!