Igor Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring (E-flat Clarinet)


Igor Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring (E-flat Clarinet) This titan of the orchestral repertoire is a very commonly programmed piece, and on virtually every E-flat clarinet audition. Though it is split between D and E-flat clarinet, you can find a transposed part pretty easily today.

The E-flat clarinet plays a prominent role right from the start. Your first solo is your first entrance, in the second bar of 1. Enter pp and grow through the half-note. Play precise rhythm on the triplets, bringing out the hemiloa by accenting the grace-notes slightly. You will use this nuance throughout the introduction as you lead this theme. Also make a dim. in the third measure of 1, and get out of the way in perfect rhythm, as indicated. Though no dynamic is given at 4, play mf. You can be a little rhapsodic with the sextuplets, but otherwise precisely rhythmic and showing the hemiola. Same at 7. At 8, it's the same, but there's a particular dynamic shape requested by Stravinsky now. Play precisely (precision is a theme in Stravinsky!), and be careful of intonation on your throat tones. In the third bar of 9, you really get to be bright and declamatory and soar above the orchestra. Give a little bit of accent to all eighth-notes, with a little taper, and make even more accent where indicated. Be extra precise with rhythm in showing the difference between the quintuplets and the regular thirty-second-notes.

Lots of fun and exposed passages follow, but your next big solo is at 48. It is difficult enough to play this softly and in tune, but not only do you need to additionally play it in tune with first the bass clarinet and later the alto flute, but you need to play in tune with the E-flat/F trill in the flutes. If they use a trill fingering, they will be able to trill faster, but it won't be as well in tune. Ask them if they would play regular fingerings to make intonation easier. If not, have them hold their E-flat and trill F for you to find your C and D on, and then play them at that pitch during the solo. Some conductors want this extremely soft, so be ready. Playing with a warrm, cushiony sound with maybe some air around the tone will help you. A soft color will also help you create the illusion of a softer dynamic. The phrases are indicated by the slurs, so show them with phrasing and tapers. Breathing is best if you do it with the lower instruments. A good spot is after the first half-note, though you may need more than just there. There is a grace-note G missing in some parts before the final D. You should play it. Some like to add the corresponding grace note A before the final E in the second solo. I like this also, but make sure the alto flute will also play it. The second solo is harder and higher than the first solo. Practice your C-E-C notes with a half-hole and steady air.

In the second part, there are solo sextuplets leading up to a trumpet duet beginning the bar before 87. Count carefully and watch the conductor so you are sure to be in the right place. Counting is also critical to be together with the piccolo trumpet at 155. Also practice intonation with them as trumpets have a slight tendency towards sharpness, and altissimo E-flat clarinets have a tendency towards flatness! The part at 184 is nearly always buried in the noise, but you can really let it rip volume-wise, but you have to practice hard to get all the right notes - it's quite fast.