Rachmaninoff Vocalise – for Mom

Rachmaninoff Vocalise Op. 34, NO. 14. Video of my practice today.

Great piece for working on phrasing and breath control. Mom loves this piece (and has sung it) and always asked me to play it. When I do, she tells me to support more, play slower and phrase longer. Thanks, Mom.

I added text comments throughout the video. Enjoy.

Clarinet - Buffet R13 A
Mouthpiece - Hawkins B
Ligature - Bay, gold plated
Reed - Legere Signature 4.25

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10 comments for “Rachmaninoff Vocalise – for Mom

  1. November 16, 2011 at

    I really like the character of your tone about 3:00 into it. Either you “warmed up” or maybe just pushed the air more. Nice. K

    • November 17, 2011 at

      It may be that the beginning starts soft and crescendos. But thanks for the comment. I think I often use too weak air in soft playing.

  2. September 30, 2011 at

    John, indeed that is a beautiful performance, including the well executed circular breathing. Martin Frost is also known for seamless circular breathing. I think you are correct in that the mouthpiece facing must allow it. But the angle of the clarinet is also important. It is easier if the clarinet is out more.

    I will be posting examples of circular breathing at some point. I’ve almost got it to a performance level.

  3. John Peacock
    September 27, 2011 at

    Hi David. You don’t seem to have posted any of your playing for a while, and it’s nice to see you back in action. Vocalise is a lovely piece – but what a nightmare of long phrases. When I try it, I find I have to hold back on the dynamic swells that Rachmaninoff marks, otherwise my air goes far too fast; it’s a frustrating compromise. This would be a perfect piece for double breathing – is that in your repertoire?

    I have a CD of Martin Frost doing Vocalise, and he plays it higher: starting on written Bflat above the stave. Playing it in the original pitch, as you do, must make it even harder to keep going – so bravo on the breath control.

    • September 27, 2011 at

      Hi John. Do you mean circular breathing? Hard to do in legato expressive lines. As for breath control, I’m zoning in on a consistent method of teaching it.

      • John Peacock
        September 29, 2011 at

        Hi David,

        Yes, I mean circular breathing. I certainly find this hard (OK, impossible): I can just about make it happen on an oboe where the rate of using air is small and the technique of squeezing air with your neck keeps the sound going OK. But with a clarinet, I find my neck can’t keep the air going long enough to get a decent breath in through the nose. I guess this depends on your setup: circular breathing will work better with a close-tipped mouthpiece – but then you can probably play long lines anyway!

        But when it’s done well, the effect is amazing – and especially with long legato phrases where you don’t want to make a break. I’ve never heard it done better than this example – what do you think?


  4. September 26, 2011 at

    Nice. Real study in breath control and phrasing. (So you did not get the Toscas?).

    • September 26, 2011 at

      No, but I got a Bb Festival, much cheaper than Tosca w same corrected tuning and bore.

  5. September 24, 2011 at

    Nice David and Happy Bday for your mom> K

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