Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique"

Second Movement video

An audition favorite, the Tchaikovsky's sixth symphony has much for the clarinet. The first difficult part, and one that is sometimes on auditions, begins 5 bars after B. In the orchestra, it is easier to play this because you don't really need a true pp. You can play as loud as p and still sound soft over the rest of the orchestra. It is more important to be on time than it is to try to make a very high note on the clarinet sound "dark". If you prepare yourself mentally, you should have no trouble coming in on time with a good attack. Play the notes as shortly as you can. In an audition it is pure torture play this entrance out of the blue. Here mental imagery goes a long way to preparing the proper attack. At an audition, you must be pp, and make the difference between pp and p. Fortunately, the hairpins up start right away, so you don't have to remain soft for long. The hairpins should be quite large and expressive. Three measures before E begins a counter melody in the woodwinds, and the clarinets are prominent. I have seen this passage (up to the Andante 12/8) on at least one audition. The first big clarinet solo begins in the eighth bar after G. Again Tchaikovsky is very specific about his markings and if you follow them you will do fine. Play extremely legato intervals, and with a very sweet sound. Work out with the bassoonist ahead of time how softly you will be at the end of your solo when you hand off to them. Do not play lower than they can go. You may add a little hairpin up on the last four notes if you like, but I prefer not to. This passage is almost never on auditions. 10 after M is a technical passage that is not solo, but it appears on some auditions anyway. T is the solo that is always heard at auditions. Stretching the first note (ppp!) is a good idea, and can be accomplished better by coming in a little early rather than by distorting the rhythm too much. You begin this solo alone, and can be somewhat free throughout. The fifth bar of T is slightly faster, and has a question/answer phrase. Play the answer a little slower, more sweetly, and a little softer. Dolcissimo is the key word here, and following his explicit dynamics are very important. The rit. in the seventh bar of T continues until the Andante. The quasi adagio bar is quite slow, as is the sixteenth-note at the end of the bar.

The second movement is a waltz in 5/4 with little exposed for the clarinet. It is easy to get lost on the long notes at first, so count carefully. The third movement begins with notes to be played as shortly as you can. The clarinets lead the new theme at H. Play short notes and quick grace-notes. Follow the dynamics exactly in the bar before I, getting very loud by the third beat, but not spreading or going out of tune. The rest of the movement is self-explanatory and fun, and there is nothing important for the clarinets in the last movement.