Orchestral Excerpts for Auditions

November 6, 2006 at 06:30 AM · This is a relatively short article...

If an audition requires that you play an orchestral excerpt, is it best to play it soloistically or orchestrally?

And while I'm at it, I might as well ask:

How about etudes and scales? Should I play them soloistically or simple?

All help appreciated!


Replies (5)

November 6, 2006 at 06:32 AM · Greetings,

actually I am not sure if one can specify that clear a difference although I can see the sense of your question. Basically you need to play in tune, very rythmically, all the dynamics and the most apprpriate style and sound for that music. Perhaps the last bit is where your question lies. A soloist might choose to do things more individually for seffetc but basically you should be familiar with how to play Brahms in orchestra , Beethoven (with slightly less bow use than Mozart but very deep into the string) Mozart(loner mlighter bow strokes than Beethoven)-some generlaizations.


Very often learning the score in depoth of the extract wil provide a lot of answers to these questions. One can here the differnce between a player who has and han`t done that importnat work.

One danger is not to play too quietly in extracts such a sBrahms symphonies that have a piano or pp marking. You may be some way from the panel, possibly behind a curtain and adjusting the sound up to a good solid level is, within reason, very importnat. Many player shave made the mistake of suddnely becoming inaudible to the panel.



November 6, 2006 at 04:22 PM · Buri gives good advice as usual, and I would only add that in listening to auditions I've never faulted anyone for playing an excerpt too soloistically... unless that meant distorting rhythms, ignoring dynamics, using a hideous vibrato, etc!

When playing excerpts, you really have to show that you've digested all the markings in the part. Many people extend that to mean that there's only one way to play a given excerpt, and therefore no room for personal expression. But it's really no different than solo pieces, where the markings should be observed too! Your difference will be in your sound, the way you connect to make long lines, the purity of your pitch, and a thousand other variables. You have to curtail the use of rubato, but so what? Most auditions will include a solo piece as well, often before you get to the excerpts, so you have a chance to show the total you.

Your question was short, and probably deserved a shorter answer. Best of luck!

November 6, 2006 at 06:48 PM · Thanks everyone.

Buri- when you said to play Beethoven with less bow and more pressure, does that apply to his sweet and 'tender' sections as well as his 'angry' ones?

November 7, 2006 at 12:25 AM · Greetings,

hah, knew I`d get onto dangerous ground here.;)

I don`t really like the word pressure that much...

It is impossible to put into words but basically the `Beethoven sound` for me, has a kind of core of intensity whereas Mozart has a kind of easy, singing quality. The intensity is in tthe harmony and melody not the quality of sound itslef. Struggling here...

That doesn`t mean I`m going to start using half the bow in the Spring sonata or anything silly like that. On the whole I am probably going to be alitlt e nearer the bridge with the bow moving a litlte slower. A quick compairson might be the kind of sound I`d use in the theme from the piano trio opus 12 no1 and the slow movement of Mozart violin cocnerto no 4.

I think one of the characteristics of Beethoven`s orchestral writing which make sit such a pain in the botty at times is that he follows long sustained notes with fast notes as an up beta into the next sustained note. You have to be able to use the bow oin a slow and compact way. Or consider the lea dinto the last movement of Beethoven 5. Down bow dotted half note, 3 quarter notes, repeated over and over. I have seen the most apalling versions by ocrchestras of all amneer of levels using rapid retakes from the upper half or up bow staccatos and so on. But if you watch an orchestra like the Czech Philharmonic they play that long note only in the lower half with fatastic depth and are still in the lower half for those quarter notes. I also see quite a lot of use very long `hooked` bowings on dotted quarter followed by eith note passages. This may be due in aprt to the characte rof the modern bow (?) but there are quite a few cases where a more sustained slower down bow followed by a retake sounds an awful lot better. Don`t know if this makes any sense.



BTW in my first post I said `one danger is no tto play too quietly in Brahms.` What I actually menat was the dnager of palyiong too quietly.

March 22, 2007 at 06:03 AM · Stanley,

What a huge question. I studied with Steven Staryk, who was concertmaster of Chicago, Amsterdam and London. By age 35.

His advice: play like you're a first-violinst in a string quartet. I think it's pretty good advice--blend passion with precision. I think most people will be eliminated at auditions for pretty simple and obvious reasons:

Intonation. Rushing. Inconsistent sound quality. Limited dynamic range.

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