Tuttis in Mozart Concerto n.3.

November 25, 2014 at 05:56 AM · I’ve watched videos of Mozart Concerto n.3 played by Perlman, Hann, Mutter and Oistrakh. None of them did the tuttis. I’m bewildered by that. I know that the tuttis aren’t taught in conservatories or by private professors. However, I thought that international solists would play them.I think it’s important, because they played the concerto imcompletely. And that makes it wrong. Yes, Perlman and Oistrakh and all of them got it wrong.

I guess they got away with it because the tuttis are still played by the orchestra. The thing is, the soloist playing that section is the diference between “all right” and “perfect”. It was fun watching Oistrakh and Mutter because they conducted the orchestra. They played the “authentic music” card, like, taking the role of the conductor as it was in Mozart’s time. What they actually lacked was playing the tutti, which has also what Mozart wanted.

Replies (25)

November 25, 2014 at 06:19 AM · I don't think it necessary when playing with orchestra, as you will just be another first violin, and probably not heard, but when playing with piano it may be a good idea.

November 25, 2014 at 06:48 AM · Completely up to the soloist. I've seen many violinists play along and just take a brief break. And it's not just Mozart I've seen a soloist play along, have seen it in things like Sibelius Vln Concerto, Tchaikovsky, etc.. Have also played a brief snippet of the tuttis (we're talking one or two measures worth).

Far as piano accompaniment is concerned, have never bothered with the tutti's due to 3/4th of the time there being substantial cuts. But again, 100% up to the soloist what they're willing or wanting to do.

November 25, 2014 at 09:04 AM · I'd argue the opposite.

When playing with an orchestra, part of the dialogue with the ensemble is the back and forth between the solo parts and the tutti. It's not interesting to have the soloist playing the exact same thing as the first violins. As a conductor, those tuttis are the time that I have to craft something in response to the soloist.

As far as doing it because "that's what Mozart wanted" that's an entirely different line altogether. We could argue about playing it with the proper sized orchestra, tuned to the appropriate historical pitch, with the appropriate old instruments and gut strings and period bows, etc. Of course, since he's been dead for over two centuries, it's also open to debate what exactly "he would have wanted."

At the end of it, it's an interpretive choice, one that isn't about right and wrong. There is not only one right way to play a piece of music.

November 25, 2014 at 03:20 PM · Gene Wie: It's actually a good idea to put in practice everything you said - the gut strings and the properly numbered orchestra and such. However, that's an hyperbole. Those are things that need some research and also need making the instruments. The tuttis just need to be studied. The difficulties of all those other things must not deter us from doing what is more simple. We might not have historical instruments and bows at our disposal, but the tuttis are written in the sheet music along with the solo part.

John A: The thing with the Tchaikovsky Concerto, is that the composer didn't write the tutti for the solist. In that case, if the soloist does it, it's wrong.

November 25, 2014 at 04:34 PM · As someone who engages in historically informed performance practice I can tell you that there is nothing interesting about doing things "right" vs. "wrong." The common practice at the time was that the soloist was also the concertmaster/conductor, in which case it is sometimes perfectly acceptable to stop playing and conduct if absolutely necessary. You simply must do what is necessary to make the music come together. It is the modern tradition for the soloist to take a break during the tuttis and there's nothing really wrong with that especially considering that if the concert is being recorded then the soloist must quickly blend their sound with the tutti section lest he/she wants to override their sound due to standing further away from them. I would say that if the soloist is in the modern position of standing somewhat in front of the conductor then it is NOT a good idea to play the tuttis, the sound will not blend with the firsts. If you want to be historically accurate, the soloist stands either where the concertmaster stands or in the spot where the podium would be facing the audience.

November 25, 2014 at 05:00 PM · Ezequiel Belaustegui

It's up to the soloist to decide what is right or wrong for them, and not have a blanket rule as you are suggesting. What you are saying is just acedemic, and has no validity.

November 25, 2014 at 07:42 PM · Peter don't be so dismissive, he doesn't seem to be talking about a blanket rule at all, and this is an interesting discussion.

I can say that during the Indianapolis violin competition, one performers (Tessa Lark) played during all the tuttis, and it was really exciting. It connected her with the orchestra, and I think it also put her at ease for the solo parts.

November 25, 2014 at 08:36 PM · Peter, how can something simultaneously be academic AND have no validity?

If there's a conductor there then there's no need for the soloist to play the tutti parts. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but that the whole point is to lead the orchestra and if there's someone already doing that then take a breather lol.

November 25, 2014 at 10:58 PM · Hi Ezequiel,

I would love to learn, can you quote from a treatise or letter that Mozart wanted the soloist playing in tutti?

November 26, 2014 at 12:57 AM · No, it's not hyperbole. The question is how much time and resources we are willing to commit to realize a specific vision of the work. A professional conductor-less chamber orchestra that specializes in period performances is going to make very different choices than a high school orchestra featuring the group's concertmaster in the solo capacity.

November 26, 2014 at 01:51 AM · Dorian Fu: search on imslp.org the autograph version of Mozart's Concerto n.5. You'll see that in the first tutti, in the stave of the soloist, it says "col 1mo (primo) violino", which means "with first violin". In the second tutti there are silences, but in the third tutti it says once again "col 1mo violino". So yes, Mozart intended the soloist to play alongside the orchestra. I've been looking for the autograph version of Concerto n.3, which is the one I brought into discussion, but I haven't found it.

November 26, 2014 at 09:02 AM · Here is a deeper look into the issue including some autograph excerpts. Interesting read, esp. when it deals with cadenzas.

November 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM · Mischa and Ezequiel, thanks!!

November 26, 2014 at 10:16 AM · To make a logical and valid point, what about pianists?

Should they bash out the orchestra parts during the tuttis? Should singers sing along (God forbid) in the orchestral bits?

What about the audience doing a sing-along in the tuttis as well?

I know conductors sometimes sing along in symphonies but apart from a permanent gag (good idea, especially in rehearsals) I suppose we have to put up with it. At least the audienec won't hear it so they are spared.

November 26, 2014 at 02:39 PM · If pianists are replacing the orchestra, then yes, they should play the concerto in it's entirety. Are you referring to the common practice of the pianist skipping the whole section, and playing one bar before the soloist entrance? That's laziness all right. About the conductors singing, well... I'm sorry, but I have no idea of what you are talking about. I fail to understand why a conductor would sing.

November 26, 2014 at 02:50 PM · Sorry, I wasn't very clear.

I meant in piano concertos (like a Mozart concerto) should the pianist then join in and bash away in the orchestral tuttis?

I think with string players its as much about playing a bit to warm up before the solo entry. A bit of playing into the string before you possibly mess up the solo part! (wink)

November 26, 2014 at 08:59 PM · Sometimes the audience can hear the conductor singing along...

November 26, 2014 at 09:32 PM · Hi Peter, I'm not sure if you actually read the article, but there are tutti passages where Mozart wrote in figures for the keyboard to join the bass line as a continuo function and leading the orchestra harmonically

That being said, I'm not too hung up on whether modern orchestras and soloists are completely historical or not, I see Perlman and Oistrakh and Brendel as great artists in 20th century performance practice, and they play beautifully and there's nothing wrong with that. If more modern players pay closer attention to performances practices, that's really cool too! And perhaps the sound of a fortepiano blends better and playing figured bass on a Steinway might be really jarring in a modern context.

November 26, 2014 at 11:54 PM · Dorian

I'm in broad agreement regarding modern players. I've been a bit naughty in pushing the arguments to its limits, but it has resulted in an interesting discussion.

November 27, 2014 at 02:44 AM · One good thing about playing the tuttis is you dont have to count all those rests!

November 27, 2014 at 03:30 AM · I'm sure you are aware Paul anyway, but soloists should know the works so well that they know where to come in. Even in orchestra if one knows a work that well then we can forget the bar counting and know where to enter.

November 28, 2014 at 12:33 AM · Thanks, Peter!

November 29, 2014 at 09:35 PM · Peter, in this regard Ez is right. If Mozart wrote it, then it should be done. After all, there can be no debate about what Mozart would want if he wrote it in plain text. Furthermore, composers at that time barely wrote any directions in their music so the little they wrote should be observed. I think your examples of conductors singing and whatnot is not relevant to this conversation.

November 29, 2014 at 10:27 PM · Conductors aren't relevant in any conversation! (wink)

I dont think you should take me too seriously in this subject, a lot of what I said was tongue in cheek.

November 30, 2014 at 11:56 AM · Cool... I'm right. Thanks Marina.

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