Monday, April 13, 2015

Symphony No.1 in C-major by Muzio Clementi

      Here's The Philharmonia conducted by Francesco d'Avalos in Clementi's Symphony No. 1 in C Major. Though Clementi is known for his piano works, I am really enjoying his symphony.

Clementi lived from 1752 until 1832, so he was around when Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven were transoforming classical music. But right along with them, Clementi spent 50 years of his life as a performer, composer, publisher, teacher, arranger, and instrument maker. He is known as "the father of the pianoforte" because of his persistence on showcasing this new instrument at the time.

In this symphony you can already sense the stretching of the Classical style towards the Romantic style. There are stark contrasts, a variety in dynamics, all within rich harmonies and beautiful melodies.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Practice Tips for Hunter's Chorus, Suzuki Book 2

     We have already said that one of the goals of Book 2 is to take bowing to the next level. Chorus from Judas Maccabeus introduced us to using whole bow while  Musette introduced playing near the upper half and tip of the bow. But we can't neglect playing at the frog can we? Hunter's Chorus is written by Carl Maria van Weber. Here are some things to keep in mind along with playing near the frog.

I have always struggled to know how to break up the piece. Here is the best I have right now: part 1, m. 1 – 8 first note; part 2, m. 8 last note – m. 20 first note; part 3 m. 20 last note – m. 22; part 4, m. 23 – 26; part 5, m. 27 – end.

After playing a piece with whole bow, we are challenged to play at the frog. There are many ways to play this piece with the bow, so I am not saying this is the only way to play it.

This word appears as ff, which gives us an idea already of what it means. If f  (forte) means loud, then ff means very loud. We see this word towards the end of the piece in measure 31, where we use the most bow possible no longer staying at the frog.

1st and 2nd Ending.
Composers have always sought ways to keep from writing out sections that repeat and this is one way. We notice that in m. 33-34 there is a bracket over the measures with a number 1 on the left side. This means that you play those measures then repeat from measure 23, where there is a repeat sign. On the repeat you do not play the first ending again, but jump directly to the last two measures which is the second ending.

1. Practice the bow exercises at the frog and then ff.

2. Clap and say the note names to work on the rhythm. Make sure to take your time so that you can really become comfortable with the notes and rhythms.

3. Just like in Chorus from Judas Macabeus play all the slurs as hook bow, stopping between each note. This will be especially helpful in seeking to get all four notes in 1 beat, since they are sixteenth notes. This is one of the strategies that Dr. Suzuki employed in learning the piece.

4. Practice m. 21-22 working with the open D strings, big and fast down bows.

5. Play m. 23-24 big bow on the accent and shorter stop-bow on the staccato, notice that it is similar to m. 21-22 in that we have long-short-short combinations.

6. Now, work on m. 25-26, 29-30 where we play two notes down bow smoothly, slurring them, then a short and light up bow on the staccato note. You can also lift the bow on the staccato up-bows for a more artistic flavor.

7. Lastly, m. 31-32 has ff, so we have to use whole bow with an emphasis on the first and last note of each measure.

8. Pick four songs from Book 1 per day to play at the frog.

9. Play all three songs back-to-back to continue to build your stamina. If you really want to challenge yourself, start back in book 1 with #8, Allegro and play all the way through Hunter's Chorus.

There's a lot more than can be done and that's where your private teacher will lead. Remember to give priority to your private teacher's directions as he or she knows you best.