Dimitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 1

Solos video

Shostakovich wrote this creative, quirky, groundbreaking piece when he was just 19. It's full of color and life, and the very creative, slightly-off melodies he used throughout his life. For example, the cadence right before your first solo is on an F-sharp-dominant-seventh chord, but you start in the key of C that the Trumpet did in measure one, preceded with an octotonic scale, and end in A major! The mood of this solo is arrogance and bravado. Cresc. the run and the first three long notes. The first part of the phrase is headed towards the long F-sharp. Maintain your f and only dim. when marked. Make a sizeable cresc. on the eighth-notes to mf, and a very quick dim. The solo at 8 is a fast march, and it's quite easy to rush. This passage uses a technique Shostakovich often employs throughout his life: fast tempos and melodies that fight those tempos by trying to pull back. Play the long notes long, and the short notes late and quick to accentuate the rhythmic tension. 14, 16, and 33 are beautiful, waltzy solos in answer to the flute. Be elegant, expressive, and light on the staccato. A clarinet solo ends the movement, in recollection of what went before.

The second movement begins with a "false start" before the clarinet solo introduces the main material. It's always faster than you think, but should never sound out of control. As before: long notes long (quarters), short notes short (eighths). Cresc. to the end from seventh bar of the solo. 4 and 21 are difficult tutti passages - be ready to play them at an audition. The two-clarinet chorale at 8 is important, but not on auditions. Generally growing stronger with the rise in register is a good phrasing for this passage.

The fourth movement has call-and-response duet for clarinets that is very difficult and sometimes is on auditions for both first and second clarinet. It's very fast and awkward. Play louder and clear in the orchestra and don't fall behind. You should play a little slower in an audition for clarity and accuracy's sake. If it's too fast in the orchestra, you may find that you can come in slightly early after the rest to spread the notes out a bit more. There are no tricks to playing all the awkward runs in this movement, you just have to put in the hours learning them. Unless you double tongue, it is unlikely you will be able to tongue the notes at 10, 14 and elsewhere. You can play different rhythms of three sixteenth-notes per beat, or even do eighth-notes if you can't keep up. It is most important not to be behind here.