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Mendy Smith

Telemann Re-Visited

April 6, 2012 at 3:53 AM

I literally dusted off Telemann. The student's concerto. The 'easy' one. The one that I thought I couldn't learn anything more from.

Most of what I work on these days are littered with little pencil marks: fingering suggestions, bowing changes, music theory in the margins... but the Telemann was surprisingly pristine. Only a few bowing changes and not much else. The lack of markings hinted that this was indeed a very simple piece. This piece, however simple, was not only going to be dusted off, but polished to a fine sheen.

Over the course of the week I worked on the first two movements, dredging up memories of childhood viola lessons: which notes were held to full length, those that were shortened, when to play at the tip or frog, tempos, baroque trills, and so on. After a week, I exhausted my memory and was as ready as I could be for a lesson on a piece I hadn't touched in decades.

At my lesson, I played the first movement without a single interruption from my teacher, then mentally prepared myself for what was sure to come next. What came next was an in-depth analysis. How should I be using the bow to get the 'color' I wanted? Where exactly in the bow did I want to be for a particular note? How much bow did I want to use and at what dynamic? Should this note be held just a tad longer? What about that trill? And oh, here are some ornaments to consider, and think about a cadenza...

Nope, not easy.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on April 6, 2012 at 1:04 PM
You always gain by revisiting pieces you studied years ago. With baroque pieces, which may seem technically "easy" compared to later ones, you have to remember that the baroque composers expected soloists to add their own ornamentation. So, just with that particular aspect, there is always more to learn. Not to mention that every time you revisit an important piece with more technique, you realize that there is another level to the piece which you could not appreciate initially. Have fun!

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