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Sharon Kam, Debussy, Première Rhapsodie

Sequence published on 4/16/21
Composer : Claude Debussy
Year of composition : 1910
Artistic period : 20th century
Academy : Academy Apr. 11 - Apr. 18, 2021
Master(s) : Sharon Kam
Student : Jules Baeten
Date of recording : 10/22/21
Instrument(s) played :

"Make sure that the sections really get to character and stay there." Sharon Kam

About the Clarinette class of Sharon Kam on the Première Rhapsodie

Master class de Clarinette, Sharon Kam | Debussy, Rapsodie 1

The class begins with an important aspect for the master: "Planning, knowing what is needed to get up and to get down, play quick, to make a new color and to create a new  dynamic". The main criticism has to do with the fact that “this span of energy is coming up and down, and it's not always fitting to the span” the master expects it to be. Consequently, the class revolves around the correct use of energy, with very specific indications on certain notes in particular (and on aspects that exceed the intonation).

At the same time, there are recurring comments about breathing, certain accents, dynamics, changes in tempo, and the importance of making the sections more different from each other.

What we learn in this Clarinette Master class

- Correct use of energy
- Importance of differentiating the sections, and highlighting each character
- One must be careful with the breaths
- Some of the pianissimos can be less earthy
- The interpreter must take risks and be creative
- The difference between the staccato and legato
- In some sections of this piece, the interpreter can be freer, and try not to be always in tempo
- Playing more sound is important
- More singing
- The piano and pianissimo can be very intensive
- Every note has a different need of the air.
- Sometimes, the breath has to be very soft. 

About Claude Debussy's work

Claude Debussy, Première Rhapsodie The Première Rhapsodie is dedicated to Prospèr Mimart (1859-1928), who was the professor of clarinet at the Paris Conservatoire from 1904-1918. Mimart gave the premiere performance on January 16, 1911. The Première Rhapsodie is a free-form piece. In a whirlwind of seven-plus minutes, Debussy poses immense challenges on the performer. The difficulties include a number of significant technical obstacles, tests of endurance, breath control, and subtleties of tone, intonation, and nuance, that are heavily worked on in this class.
Although originally conceived as a competition solo, the work was quickly recognized as a masterpiece solo work for the clarinet and soon began appearing in programs on the concert stage. Debussy was so pleased with this work that in 1911 he orchestrated the piano part so that the piece could be performed by the soloist with orchestra. The orchestration is brilliant and offers clarinetists a very special addition to the repertoire for clarinet and orchestra. The title "Première" (first) Rhapsodie implies that perhaps Debussy may have considered the possibility of a second Rhapsodie, but, unfortunately, this never materialized.
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