” Peter and The Wolf”, Prokofiev

When you sit down for your first rehearsal for “Peter and The Wolf”, the most famous childrens work by Sergei Prokofiev, it really doesn’t matter which edition you are playing. The librarian will have put the part into your folder and the conductor chose the edition. You have but one task: to play the Cadenza with perfection.
Your preparation of the cadenza and indeed, of the entire part is a bit of work but a great opportunity to put all of those scale methods to superb use.
In preparing this group of ascending triplets, one first must learn the notes perfectly by playing them slowly and marking in all fingerings. Then , begin to practice them as triplets, placing strong accents on the first note as if it were the first note of a triplet (instead of the third). After you have worked out all of the fingerings and practiced them, change the fulcrum to the actual triplet formation itself, as written, which brings a different note for accentuation, then change the accent to the second note, bringing still a different accent point. In this manner you are really practicing stressing all of the notes, which should bring about total eveness, which is the point. Do not add the accelerando until you have practiced it in this manner and can play it “cold”. Then begin to practice the accelerando. Always at this point, stop prior to the grace notes which ascend ending on the final perch of the cat.
Now, when practicing the grace notes, which are difficult, remember first the function of the music: it is where the cat actually jumps up into the limb of the tree. Slowly practice the grace notes and heavily accent the landing of each accent “jump” of the cat. Then, you are ready to accelerate the jump as is the practice in performance of the work.
If need be, there are many recordings of the work and each clarinetist has worked out the cadenza as are you, almost always with success, at least on the recording. Remember the function of the grace notes and play them softer than the landing accented notes. Then, after you’ve got them all the way you want them, make the accelerando. I once had to perform that cadenza three times within a two hour period for three childrens concerts in a row. Above is the way I did it, and it worked.

best wishes,
Sherman Friedland

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