I'm learning the flute solo from the Menuet of L'Arlésienne Suite No. 2 (IMSLP) on the treble recorder. I'm having trouble getting from rehearsal mark C to D in one breath; there don't seem to be any good places to steal a breath.

Do flutists usually take the passage in a single breath? If not, is there a good solution?


excerpt (rehearsal marks C-D) of the flute solo of the Menuet, showing 8 bars in a row full of semiquavers

  • Try singing the passage (transposed octaves below if necessary). Where do you sneak in breaths?
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 5, 2019 at 4:00
  • For what instruments is this transcription? If alto recorder and piano (so only one other player), choose your positions and tell him. (Before bar 34, before bar 37 seem manageable and of course at one bar before D.) The time will not suffice for substantial air exchange, just a short gulp should keep you going.
    – guidot
    Aug 5, 2019 at 7:02

2 Answers 2


On the flute (and probably on the recorder) it's almost impossible to play this in one breath.
It's probably playable in two breaths, but there is no good solution. I have a recording of Emmanuel Pahud playing this, where he breathes at the end of bar 36 and I think this is probably the best of the bad solutions.
If you need three breaths then the end of bar 34 (end of a phrase) is good for the first one. Bar 38 is unaccompanied so you could take a breath at the end, just make sure your accompanist knows that so they don't start bar 39 too early.


It is usually not good practice to take a breath just before a dynamic maximum, especially after a crescendo: it will break the sentence. Personally, i would sneak in a quick breath right at the end of bar 34, when the decrescendo ends and you start a new sentence. I would be able to reach from 35 to D on one breath, but if you must, you could sneak another small breath in the second count of bar 39.

If this is not a solo passage, it is easier to sneak breaths: discuss with the other players, and just take single beats here and there, making sure that no more than 1 player breathes at a time.

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