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Mozart 4

Repertoire: I'm about to start on Mozart's 4th violin concerto. How difficult is it compared to other concertos? What level (say 1 to 6, 6 being the hardest) is it? Any tips?

From Jake Laband
Posted September 4, 2004 at 07:51 PM

I'm about to start on Mozart's 4th violin concerto. How difficult is it compared to other concertos? What level (say 1 to 6, 6 being the hardest) is it? Any tips?

From Owen Sutter
Posted on September 4, 2004 at 08:41 PM
its hard to gague a concerto like this especially on a numerical scale. the difficulty lies in executing the phrasing gracefully, its one of those "the more you practice the harder it gets" deals. i'd say check it out, if it seems like a technical push, dont do it, you dont want to be worrying about technique all that much when you work on this. also i personally feel this is the most difficult mozart concerto, so if its your first one i might recommend doing number 3 first.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on September 4, 2004 at 10:07 PM
Greetings,
Jake, I wrote a short commentary on this work in the repetoire section.
I agree with what Owebn said. Basiclaly it depends how deep you want to dig. If the notes seems easy and you suspend your critical faculties then a respetable half arse performance is possible. If you want ot get to the heart of this work you will never stop digging and it makes a lot of the biggies seem pale in comparison.
Szigeti advised studying the quartets in depth to get insights into Mozart cocnertos. Other great teacher shave repeatedly stressed the operas and I have perosnally found this to be more to my taste. The problem with Mozart is he has this vocal appraoch to instruments so when we play this stuff it really is about how we sing, and articualte and express our feelings through the voice, and in Italian to boot!!!!!!
On a more specific level, pay extreme attention to the intonation and emotioanl efefct of the chromatic notes. It is in these shocking little shifts of harmoy that the depth of this work can be found. Don"t glossover them. You might also consider that each movement has a paticularcharacter that is quite distinct from the others. So er, what is it? If you don"t have the charater then the etchnique never really falls into place...
Cheers,
Buri
From P W
Posted on September 5, 2004 at 05:28 PM
Technically: 4.5
Musically: 5
Performing clean/well in concert:6

Burri and Owen have outlined all key points.

From Owen Sutter
Posted on September 6, 2004 at 06:13 PM
definetely at least listen to some operas, even he considered himself primarily an opera composer.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on September 7, 2004 at 03:02 AM
Greetings,
PW was very kind but a few days reflection made me realize there are a further infinite number of points to be made.
The primary problem of Mozart is tempo and this does require the player to do a little research to really get into his music. For example, Harnoncourt has done a brilliant analysis of Mozart symphony in g minor that turns things on its head. Once you get past the 19th century notion of a symphony as a serious moderate paced first movement, a slow middle , scherzo and fast last to show off the (19t century) technical brillaince of the group) we can consider that Haydn and Mozart were pulling round the design of the symphony in very experimental ways. The clue to this lies in a) the tempo markings and b) the harmony. Thus in the g minor symphony the first moveemnt has Mozart`s fastest Allegro indicator (takes all the shuddering romance out of it- a different work and -much- more urgent in my opinion!) while the last is actually clearly indicated as slower bu Mozart (he crosses out the assai marking in the urtext) . This also makes the harmonic interest more tangible and less of a flashy point that the first violins gloss over because it is damn hard to get perfectly in tune.
Thern, Listening to , for example, Oistrakh playing Mozart 4, he seems to be in quite strict and controlled tempo while playing gorgeously. But when we first approach the first movement and perhaps practice diligently with the metronome to emulate the master it sounds rigid and inexpressive. Go back to the Oistrakh with a metronome and try to find the speed. Its almostimpossble. He is actually fluctuating all over the place from as low as 104 to 132. But, in terms of overall tempo it is utterly consistent. Why, because this level of genius/artist knows the harmony inside out and is using rubato in response to the harmony , not arbitrary and often imapprpropriate impulses leanred from twenty odd recordings in ones cd collection. So the problem is how to learn the rythms perfectly, and the harmony and only then find the freedom to explore the real MOzart whic is as chaotically sublime as anything found in nature (even Mattias).
The othe problem is what Fischer calls @drop outs@ which are notes that do not receive their full tonal deserts or length or disappear altogether. It is so easy to do in this concerto . A good example is the relatively simple passage in bar 62. ( semi quavers are slurred in one bow and in the first phrase one makes a string crossing from from g to a#. If the first finger is not pplaced solidy well in advance this note just disappears or makes a small farting noise that the player often glosses over in the practice room. Ask the student to pay attention to that note and the bow control goes. Hah!
Cheers,
Buri
From Thomas McEvilley
Posted on September 7, 2004 at 08:06 AM
Mozart always contrasts three basic styles in his concerti:
1)Martial/Military.
2)Lyrical/Operatic
3)Brilliant/Virtuosic

This is straight from Milstein's lips.
In a nutshell, this is what Mozart is always doing.End of mystery! You must be able to bring out these 3 different "styles" to realize a Mozart concerto.
From Ben Clapton
Posted on September 8, 2004 at 01:29 PM
About what grade is the Mozart 4? AMus? FMus? Higher? Lower?

I'd like to learn either this or Mozart 5 before I leave Uni (3 or 4 more years, i'm approx 8-amus level now)

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on September 8, 2004 at 11:43 PM
Greetings,
Ben, judging from your repertoire and comments you can play either of these concertos well very soon.
Don`t be put off by the arty farty comments above. It is all relative. If you play something in tune, with good sound and phrasing that is a start and in some cases that is as far asanyone goes.: Then with the Mozart, you experience more music, more life, come back and rethink, more music, more prunes, come back and rethink ad naseaum. Then you die.
Nobody was every satisfied with the way they played thes epeices but that doesn`t mean you shoudln`t give them your best shot and then use them to give pleasure to others. Music does not belong in a miserable ivory tower on a desert island (unless it is the Ernst F# minor concerto).
I think you might be happier perfroming No 5 in public. No4 exposes everything,
Cheers,
Buri
From Jude Ziliak
Posted on September 9, 2004 at 04:10 AM
So does 5. I had a hellacious experience in a masterclass this summer... there's nothing like Mozart to get your nerves messed up. In a sense, these are some of the most physically demanding concerti, because the bow can never relax in to the string all the way, and vibrato can neither be constant nor disappear.
That said, go for it! I remember being a 9-year old beginner and thinking that playing the Mozart concertos was the greatest thing anyone could ever hope to do on the violin.
From Nick Bleisch
Posted on September 9, 2004 at 11:54 PM
"I remember being a 9-year old beginner and thinking that playing the Mozart concertos was the greatest thing anyone could ever hope to do on the violin."

Hey! Me, too, exactly! I remember seeing the sheet music at my teacher's house and just couldn't wait to get to it.

From Owen Sutter
Posted on September 10, 2004 at 01:58 AM
i was in love with the g major my whole childhood, and i butchered it on a regular basis. havn't touched it in years, i'll pick it up soon i think. buri, why must you english always refer to notes in these riduclous hemi demi semi hoomie whatever ways? seriously in the measure you mentioned i had a lot of trouble when i played this, i decided to go into third position actually, helped me a bit.
Liek buri said, oistrakh should be your bible for mozart, even if you dont end up playing it like him. igor is also excellent at mozart, his recording of the sonatas is one of my favorites. actually i just started the a major sonata today. i'm going to put it in my concert between ysaye and ives, hah!
From Jude Ziliak
Posted on September 10, 2004 at 09:32 PM
Just by way of recordings, are you guys familiar with the Frank Peter Zimmermann recording of the Mozart Concertos? And what do you think of Pamela Frank's? Those are some of my favorites.
From Rick Basil
Posted on September 10, 2004 at 09:51 PM
Oistravk, was excellent. But no one can play Mozart with more elegance, and style than Anne-Sophie Mutter. Her first recording.(At what age??, 14!!), has to be the most mature music playing, I have ever heard in a really, really, long time. Even if you are a Mutter basher, you cannot deny the greatness of this recording.

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