Mozart Violin Concerto 4

January 14, 2008 at 03:06 AM · My All-State Audition piece is Mozart Violin Concerto #4 in D major. It is giving me a major headache right now. I can play all the notes, but it is soo hard to get everything in tune and get everything clean and coordinated...

For example, I can never get the slurred sixteenth notes on measure 48 in tune and in exact rythmn. I can never get the scalar passage in measure 52 all coordinated and in tune also. I can't get the passage in measure 74 in tune or clean, and the longer passage that starts on measure 126 is never in tune or coordinated.

I tried to practice each of these many spots slowly and could get the intonation in tune, but I cannot get it right if I play in real tempo?

Is the Mozart #4 really this hard for everyone? It's so much harder than last year's audition piece, the Viotti concerto 23... Does anyone have any tips on any of these parts? (and in general)

Replies (44)

January 14, 2008 at 04:26 AM · "I tried to practice each of these many spots slowly and could get the intonation in tune, but I cannot get it right if I play in real tempo?"

Why not practice it as slowly as possible, and then slowly bring up the tempo? If intonation is a problem at higher speeds, then it's probably best to lower your speed for now. Back in my 'All-State' audition days, the trials were at my school one year. One of my directors was on the panel, and when everything was said and done, told me I was first ranked until I played the last etude. What would I have done differently if I could repeat it? Play it slower. He later told me the judges agreed as well. You don't have to be a superhero, just play it as best as you can, and practice with a set goal.

January 14, 2008 at 04:39 AM · I might play it as slow as szeryng does in his recording, but my teacher has told me to play it faster...

January 14, 2008 at 04:40 AM · Chris,

Honestly it is kind of really difficult concerto. You might play better any romantic concerto, but it is Mozart... Too fine music. It is not only technical issue...

Well, no more lecture. About only technique... don't worry, it is not as hard.

Measure 48:

When you practice, make stops after each group which consists of four 16s notes. Every time play with accent each 1st note of group. So you accent notes B, A, G, F#. It is descending scale. Listen to the intonation of each note, especially G. If G is out of tune (it might be a little sharp), check how you shift. You should place G note next to 1st finger(F#). Why I point to this shifting: You start this passage in 3rd position, where you place 1st and 2nd fingers on a distance of 1 step between them (see 2nd group: A-B-C#-A). Now, after shifting down to 1st position, you should place fingers differently (4th group: F#-G-A-F#). You definitely know all this staff without my comments, but here is really common reason of playing this passage out of tune, when a player doesn't hit G correctly.

Measure 52:

I think, that here lays same reason: shifting. Feel your left hand moving "vertical", toward you. Don't press too nuch fingers to fingerboard, don't press them at all, especially while shifting. And practice shiftings separately, repeat each for many times back and force until it is perfect in both directions. I ask my students to repeat each shifting not less than 100 times, even after it is perfect.

Measure 74:

Check how you cross strings on detache. You have this combination:

DDGG GDAA ADDG DDAA

Measure 126:

Try to create doubles from neighbour notes, especially in measures 127, 129, 131, 133. "Clean" all 4th intervals. For example, in measure 126, "clean" F#-B; in measure 128- interval B-D, etc.

Good luck!

January 14, 2008 at 08:03 PM · Bump... This is a pretty difficult concerto

January 14, 2008 at 11:16 PM · i played this concerto w/ the joachim cadenza last year.. got into all state w/ it.. dont listen to ppl who say mozart is easy..its NOT.. he was an incredible genius w/ an incredible sense of the violin. he knew what he was doing. just practice difficult parts slowly.. gradually bringing them up to tempo.. it is not wrong to play the concerto slower than is written.. the tempo marking 144 is rather ridiculous in anyones eyes.

January 15, 2008 at 01:28 AM · Greetings,

the tempo marking is not Mozarts`s sicne there were no metrognomes at that time. The tempo of great players fluctuates between 112 and 128. It is a very useful exericse to sit down with a metronome and plot exactly what the great violinists do with this work. One of the things taht make sit diifcult is finding the perfect tempo for all the components while maintianing an overall coherency. One way of thinking about the piece is somwhere between common time and 2/2. Mozart often falls between the gaps his tempo indications, sounding too pedestrian in the formwe or too fast in the latter.

I submit to the Heifetz position that the Mozart are among the most dififuclt cocnertos that very few play well.

Cheers,

Buri

January 16, 2008 at 05:28 AM · do most people have to spend A LOT of time with this concerto? (even for those people who know all the scales and arpeggios inside out, AKA not me?) Since there is always something out of tune, or not clean, in practically every phrase of this piece

January 16, 2008 at 06:52 AM · Greetings,

yes!

BTW I`ve been polishing it for 27 years and am still completely unsatisfied.

Cheers,

Buri

January 16, 2008 at 05:22 PM · Yes. As I said before, it is hard concerto, as all Mozart's concerti. Can repeat Buri that for years I can't still solve Mozart's secret. What's a genius!

January 16, 2008 at 10:15 PM · That's good... I've only had two months to prepare for this audition, and I don't quite sound like David Oistrakh in this concerto yet

January 16, 2008 at 10:37 PM · in the other hand it`s Chris Meyer who is worth listening to.:)

January 16, 2008 at 10:40 PM · I don't know if I'm supposed to shift to third position toe fourth beat of measure 57... Most people stay in first position, but my teacher, who uses the Barentier, wants me to shift to third position, which gets out of tune...

January 16, 2008 at 11:50 PM · Greetings,

Chris, I don`t have the score here. Can you just describe the bar from the beginning so I can figur eout which one it is.

Cheers,

Buri

PS Three viola players walked into a bar. You`d have though one of them would have seen it.

January 17, 2008 at 12:20 AM · How many viola players does it take to walk into a bar? Not three, just one--and all the rest to argue how Primrose would have done it.

January 17, 2008 at 01:29 AM · Stephen,

Its the second "theme" of the piece... It is the 16th measure of the piece

It's at 1:51 in this francescatti video

http://youtube.com/watch?v=poDsUaUDIyI

January 17, 2008 at 01:47 AM · Greetings,

okay I got you. I can`t count to 57. Yes you should (as though should exists in any individual interpretation of music) go to third for two beats, change to d string 2nd position, change to a string. The idea is to get a differnet color or human voice for each thematic fragment. Done otherwise is terribly mundane.

Hitting that f# can be a pain. One thing that helps is to parctice the thre epossible shifts : lower note leads (presumably what you will use), upper note leads, and the combination shift in which the lower begins then the upper takes over. But the problem may actually lie in having a fuzzy mental image of the relationship between 1st and 4th finger. Are you taking it clealy to c sharp or c natural or have you not even thought about it because you are so focused on the f sharp. With the clarity of where this finger is going your fourth will be in trouble.

Cheers,

Buri

January 17, 2008 at 01:55 AM · ^a lot of it is getting the bottom A in tune as well..

The passage from 5:36 to 5:38 is also really tricky... Any suggestions for fingerings? For the f sharp and A, I'm playing it in first position, then shifting to second position for the c sharp...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=poDsUaUDIyI

January 17, 2008 at 03:02 AM · Greetings,

sorry no youtube at work;)

Can you just describe the ruthms and notes of that one bar. Then I will know where you are.

Cheers,

Buri

January 17, 2008 at 03:31 AM · It is like the part at the end of the development involving a lot of really fast shifting. between first and second positions... Right after it are some broken arpeggios in d major ...

January 17, 2008 at 08:08 PM · ^bump

January 24, 2008 at 02:23 AM · OMG... In three days, I have my all-state audition, but my piece is sooo out of tune, especially the part on measure 126. Slow practice isn't especially useful because it falls out of tune the next time I play the passage! I can never get my left hand even as well... God help me and bless me with Szeryng's perfect technique and intonation!

January 24, 2008 at 02:25 AM · PANIC!

January 24, 2008 at 03:35 AM · yeah, I dunno why I'm panicking so much... I'm concertmaster of my school orchestra, so it's kind of a burden since my conductor wants me to be in the top 10... But I've already sent in all my college applications...

January 24, 2008 at 03:42 AM · Why not try the opposite of slow practice for a while? Play at warp speed then slow it down closer to audition time.

January 24, 2008 at 04:04 AM · Greetings,

Chris, if you are really convinced it is that out of tune then go to Lauries write up of the Sassahamaus (can`t spell that) master class lessons in the blogs section. There you will find a description of a lesson given to a girl palyign a Pagini caprice. She was advised ot set the mmat 40 and blah blah.

Also review Drew`s last blog on RH.

Put these things together and you almost get to the ehart of the problem: you probably haven`t been vizualizing and praciticng at a slow enough tempo and you haven`t repeated the corrected note many times befor emoving on.

I say this is almost the heart of it becaus eI think there is one more aspect you could quietly consider: very often players talk in generalizxations about a difficult passage but virtually everytime the problem is actually in one specific place and that has never been identified. Have you really identified the problem here? Is it soemthing ratehr subtle like tensing up the base joint of the first finger just before a shift which is throwing the whole thing? Are you misisng one note that throws everything? Essentially a problem only exists between two notes.

Cheers,

Buri

January 24, 2008 at 08:04 PM · I'm getting even more frustrated... Last thursday, I went to a store to rehair my bow and replace the white plastic part on the top of the bow... They had to order it from english for 95 dollars and have kept my bow there ever since... Now, I find out that I can only pick up the bow tomorrow, Friday, a day before the audition! I've been practicing on a not so good, heavy, thick bow that I have for a week.... Should I use that bow for the audition or use my regular superior bow which I would only have a day to practice on?

January 24, 2008 at 10:42 PM · Greetings,

Chris. Use your good bow. Why handicap yourself.

Last night I was lsitenign to a recordning of the Beethoven and I thought of you;)

It`s the live recording Neveu made with Barbarolli way back in the beginning of time. Technically it is abolutely atrocious. For example, teh opneing of the last moveemnt she offers up so many possile verisons of d its hilarious.. Partly its a genuine live recording so one takes therough with the smooth but also it is quite possible that using older gut strings or whatever her violin started to go out of tune badly and she actually coped quite well. When I listen to this recording I make a conscious shift to listenjign as though in a cocnert with all the difficulties that the Beethoven presnets to anyone. I just listen for the greta stuff and enjoy the music.

THat@s pretty much how your Mozart is going to be. YOu@ve done the best you can which is pretty darn good. Now just go ahead and play your heart out. People come to enjoy the music. They couldn`t care less about a few missed notes at the end of the day. Belive it or not taht is true of a lot of judging panels as well.

Cheer,s

Buri

January 25, 2008 at 02:25 AM · my teacher tells me to use my worse bow, because I have been using it for one week already and it might be too quick a transition if I were to get it tomorrow and the audition is the day after that....

January 25, 2008 at 02:31 AM · then you shopudlN`t have asked! Second guessing a teacher online is not so ghood;)

Bets of luck,

Buri

January 25, 2008 at 02:39 AM · I saw your message after my lesson today though...

but I doubt Ginette Neveu could play stuff really out of tune, considering that she beat oistrakh and other great violinists in the wieniawski competition

January 25, 2008 at 03:22 AM · Greetings,

actually I have an extremely good ear, thank you very much. The competition comment is irrelevent. her Beethoven is strewn with intonation errors- that is compeltley differnet from having bad intonation. My point is everyone has a bad day. It could be the strings, influenza, a bad flight (ears get skewed) or just a bad hair day. She didn`t let it detract form the music though.

Cheers,

Buri

January 25, 2008 at 04:24 AM · What's the difference between intonation errors and bad intonation? I'm guessing errors occur at difficult places and bad intonation would be spread out, like bad hearing?

How do we know she's making errors? Maybe she's using microtones to play with our with our brains :)

January 25, 2008 at 05:38 AM · Greetings,

Jim. That`s it to some extent but for me it include san element of awareness. The player has no ide athey are plaing out of tiune with others, have no sensitivity to key and so on.

Missing notes within an overall command of intonation comes with the territory. However, I wouldn`t limit it to difcult passages. One a bad day even Heifetz screwed up easy passages. For lesser mortals one often spends so much time on the diffcult stuff that the easy stuff comes a cropper. If you like, by default the diffcult stuff. In the Neveu recording she hits nots off center on inumerrable ocassions and adjusts them very rapidly because she has a fine sens eof intonation (as most soloists). O)f course this is done in a sense all the time with vobrtaosicne (vibrato, since) actually hitting a note dead on is for reasons Flesch expalined in great deal more or less a theoretical impossibilty. This procedure is largely inaudible . In the Nevue recording the margin of erro is often very wide mkaking the adjustment highly noticeable to me unless I tune it out.

Incidentally many players who heard Nevue life have mentioned how magnificent she wa son stage and how poorly she comes across in recordings for some reason. Grumiiax was often the opposite. I wish I had had a chance to hear her live.

Cheers,

Buri

January 25, 2008 at 06:38 PM · today, I had to play the Mozart 4 for my school conductor as a practice audition... I always get soo nervous for these things, like my heart starts beating really fast and my legs start shaking, and my coordination and intonation falls apart. I try to take deep breaths right before I play, but the nervousness always returns... Any suggestions, or will this always be the case whenever I audition?

January 25, 2008 at 06:43 PM · How many viola players does it take to walk into a bar? Not three, just one--and all the rest to argue how Primrose would have done it.

HAHAHAHAHA

I'm sorry, I have nothing to contribute. Just funny since I'm a violist.

January 25, 2008 at 06:46 PM · chris:

u need to play alot in front of people... then ur nerves will just.. melt away

January 25, 2008 at 06:55 PM · well, if I'm playing in front of some random people who aren't necessarily comparing me to other people, then I wouldn't be AS nervous .. But whenever I'm playing to be evaluated and compared to other people, I get REALLY nervous... I would score so much higher if my hands WEREN'T trembling as I played

January 25, 2008 at 07:55 PM · "well, if I'm playing in front of some random people who aren't necessarily comparing me to other people, then I wouldn't be AS nervous .. But whenever I'm playing to be evaluated and compared to other people, I get REALLY nervous..."

Remind yourself that all the other contestants are going through the same level of anxiety and their playing will be affected by it.

January 25, 2008 at 08:27 PM · >"But whenever I'm playing to be evaluated and compared to other people, I get REALLY nervous"

Anytime you put on your baseball hat and leave your house the same thing happens. The evaluation and comparison. The only thing different is you're actually prepared for it.

January 25, 2008 at 08:53 PM · This is a difficult question to answer without being able to see what you're doing - what does your teacher say?

January 25, 2008 at 11:08 PM · Chris-

Please forgive, but my feeling is that you are quite capable yet feeling somewhat not up to the task. Try to be more positive and care less what others think. Seems others here have given good advice regards intonation, etc. Finally I think you may be surprised at your performance. Happy days ahead. Go get 'em.

January 26, 2008 at 02:24 AM · Chris,

I am in a very similar situation with an audition in 2 weeks. It seems that I have focused so much on the first couple of pages of my concerto that I have neglected the second half. I think I have OCD.

January 26, 2008 at 12:11 PM · One thing that I tried was to do some vigorous physical exercise right before I practised. This could give you a sense of what it is like to play feeling out of breath with a fast-beating heart. It is not exactly the same as being nervous but I found it useful.

I also think that Mozart 4 is hard.

January 26, 2008 at 11:59 PM · I had my audition today. They asked us to play from measure 161 to the end (no candenza)... I messed up in the off-string passage in measure 167 and also played the annoying shift in measure 176 out of tune... I think my bow hair was too loose during the first part... Oh well...My intonation in other parts was pretty good...

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