I learned it when I was in my early teens but found it difficult. I still find it difficult. My present difficulty lies in the fact that I have higher standards and play it quicker and with a deeper musical insight. Playing the minor section with a full tone and nice colors.
I don’t think it is more difficult than the Chaminade. In fact I think the Chaminade is more difficult simply because it has more different musical expressions in it and it goes through more keys than the Carnival. The main theme comes three times if memory serves me. First time is mf in dynamic, second time it is FF and the third time is piano, just after the cadenza. Try playing just these themes and see where the difficulties lie in getting them to sound different. The first time for example a good mf and an even tone throught. This is difficult in the middle of the flute register. Don’t squeeze the middle D for example. The second time should be ff and heroic. Your fullest singing tone is required here with a strong feeling of the heroic. After the cadenza ,a beautiful soft piano is required which should also be intimate and singing. Here I ease up on the tempo a little which I think adds to the charm of it.
There are tons of scale passages in the Chaminade including many chromatic passages, which for me always require a lot of work to get it right. I am talking about evenness of fingering and perfect scales every time. I find the chromatic scales to be the most troublesome.
In the middle of the A minor section you have a difficult arpeggio, C maj, G 7, ending on a low C. This has to attract your attention while practising. Just to get the notes at this now agitated speed is very difficult.
At the beginning of the piece Miss Chaminade has suggested as a tempo Moderato. Moderato begins on the Metronome at 108. I think this is a very exciting speed but you have to be careful not to play too quick within the given tempo. Just don’t rush but maintain a good speed. You have to play broadly. At this speed you can play the main theme FF and not have to worry about the breathing. Just imagine how stunning the double tonguing in the middle of the first page would sound played at speed. the speed of the Chaminade has slowed down over time as children try to come to grips with it. Unfortunately their teachers also play it slowly as a result of listening to the students for decades.
I cannot remember how I played it in my recording but I do know that I play it quite differently now. Besides, playing with the piano is much easier than with orchestra.
The Chaminade goes through all sorts of keys, the cadenza being in F sharp major for example before returning to D major at the end.
Perhaps one day I will make a working edition of the Chaminade.
The Briccialdi is in F major most of the time! The greatest difficulty in this piece is the flexibility of the embouchure, not to mention how tiring it is. Briccialdi was a very clever young man writing it in F major, F major being one of the easiest if not the easiest key to play in.
Both pieces are fun to play and I hope you all have a lot of fun practising and playing them. I have had great pleasure and fun playing and practising these pieces through my life.
Sir James Galway