My First Recital - Mozart, Martinu, Dvorak

July 1, 2015 at 01:27 AM · Hey All,

I've been posting for a while, but no one has heard me play. I just had a recital about two weeks ago with the following:

Mozart sonata K303

Martinu Sonatina H. 262

Dvorak Sonatina Op. 100

I guess I wanted to share, but I'm happy to get opinions. I went to my teacher last lesson asking for tone production exercises after I heard the recording, and the vibrato is definitely under construction. I wasn't too happy with the intonation, but I do 3/4 octave scales, arpeggios and double stops. I noticed that my bowing is crooked a lot of the time, so basic detache work is in order as well.

Here is the Martinu. That and the Dvorak were more successful than the Mozart, but all of them can be found on my profile.

Martinu Sonatina



Replies (22)

July 1, 2015 at 02:34 AM · Gretings,

I am a Martinu fanatic. I am so happy you played this wonderful work. You know as a child he accompanied his father on the job, which happened to be fixing bells in the top of towers or something like that. So a large part of martinus early childhood experience was somehow being far above the earth looking at clouds from close up. I often find this echoes in his works. Also the dances that seem to have odd beat changes in are part of a Czech kind of musical game where players did something a little weird just to see if they could throw off their partner for a second. I also try to get this sens eof fun into the very serious beautiful stomping parties.

Will listen to and enjoy your master performance later.



July 1, 2015 at 09:22 AM · Christian, your own comments are spot on.

Yes, the bow rather slithers around, and maybe you should listen to what happens between the notes, where two thirds of our technique lurks, often ignored.

Scales will only ensure good intonation if they are played absolutely in tune, imagining each note before playing it. Otherwise they will only re-inforce approximation.

Good programme, though.

July 1, 2015 at 03:13 PM · Adrian, I'm interested in if you could elaborate on the between the notes comment.

Also, the slithering - I was pretty surprised about that. I'm trying to figure out how much of that is old habit that came out under pressure of performance, and how much is just stuff I hadn't noticed. My teacher has been correcting me semi-regularly in lessons when my bowing starts going wayward, especially on passagework, so I guess I need to make that more of my focus in practice.

She just had me do whole bows, transferring the weight in the right hand between the index finger (at bow tip) and pinky (at frog), as I had been keeping the pinky pretty straight at the frog. Doing this has resulted in a fatter sound with a straighter bow, and more of a feeling of being glued to the string. Somehow, my vibrato seemed to even come alive, as if reacting to the right hand. I'm still not quite used to the feeling, though.

And Buri, I'm quite fond of this piece. It's interesting to hear what sounds like Dvorak's influence, with Martinu's use of pentatonic scales in the third movement evoking Native American music. Martinu wrote this in Paris, before he even came to the US. The most interesting stuff is in the piano part, but both parts complement each other nicely. The funky chord progression at the very end of the third movement gives me chills.

July 1, 2015 at 03:43 PM · Christian, nice playing! I listened to your Mozart since I'm somewhat more familiar with those pieces than I am the others. I heard some really nice musical moments and some singing lines. Mozart is always much harder than it looks on the page!

My suggestions are as follows:

1. Play into your violin a little more. Don't be afraid to hear a little grit under the ear. Do tone production studies and then apply what you learn to your pieces.

2. Closely related to No. 1, use a mirror when you practice to manage your sound point. Sometimes on a long downbow you drift toward the fingerboard at the point, and then it's hard to recover from that because controlling and repositioning the bow at the point is just hard.

3. You look tall and fit, which is great, obviously, but you're looking way down at your music stand and it's causing your upper posture (your head and neck) to stoop a little. This can contribute to the erosion of your sound point. Possible solutions are to memorize your music (which I think will allow you to get much more out of it anyway, so this is really best) or to get a higher music stand.

4. Your posture might also improve if you move your violin back a little more on your shoulder. Can't tell just from one video but I wonder if your chin is kind of chasing your violin down your chest.

I'm eager to hear more of your recital when I have more time!

July 1, 2015 at 05:10 PM · Between the notes?

As well as the excellent, detailed advice so far, I often want to stop and consider exactly how each note starts and stops.

As with the consonants surrounding vowels, a note can start, e.g. Ka, Tsa, Cha, Sha, Wa, Ha, or just A!

It can finish ah, amm ,ashsh; at, ak, will not be nice.

To see it another way, the bow stroke, while remaining parallel to the bridge, can be shaped like a brush stroke: leaf-shaped, dart-shaped, beam-shaped, trembling, whispering, dynamic, brusque, sensual.

Even before the end of a stroke, something in our gesture will prepare for the next one.

All this has to be planned, precisely so we can forget about it and just do it.

July 1, 2015 at 07:56 PM · Greetings,

your bow slithers about because you dont push forward with the elbow on your down bows,

You played the Martinu very nicely but to my mind it was not very memorable because you did not really have a concept of the piece. To my mind it is basically the interplay between two slices of life. On the one hand you have a harsh, unforgiving eatern European landscape in which sturdy peasants toil . At weekends they gather in the village barn/bar where weathered older faces smile sardonically as young bucks butt heads to rut with the most comley wench serving Steinlagers on trays. The mating ritual is overt but contained within frenzied, energetic foot stamping dances which have been handed down form generation to generation unchanged. On the other hand you have a dreamer who cant quite fit into that world who wants to stand on high towers and follow the clouds .

There is no real contrast between the earthly and the divine in your performance.

The techncial reason for this is what has been alluded to in the above posts. But among other thngs you rarely play near the bridge where the dark, dense sounds of the forests lurk. Indeed when you move over to the estring which is thinner and higher you actually move the bow towards the fingerboard rather than in the correct diection.

So yes, you need to work on Simn Fischers five exercises for tone production above aything else. This will make you aware of the differnet sounds of the instrument and how to produce them. At the moment you only have one basic color.

In particular the pulsing exercise will wokr wonder son your playing. For now, at the very least I would suggest you begon -every- practice session with wbs. Especially set the mm at 80 , play on sp 5 with only a few hairs and find the perfetc ratio of speed weight to produce a ringing sound When you have it add a small vibrato that complements that sound. Then mm76 and move to sp 4. Repeat. and so on. I think the practic eof wbs at a fair speed will help to rerlease the psychic psychic energy that is misisng from your playing.

A great deal more practice of martle ad colle is needed. Especially colle. this relates to the consonat stuff Adrain is referring to. Also play an up bow with the fingers only right at te heel. then keep the hand shape and shoot to a oint about below the point. Put the bow on the string and do a dow bow using only the fingers. Keep hand shape, you back to heel and do an up bow with fingers. Repeat many times.

Also try something weird. Go though the Martinu and Dvorak and find the palce s where the peasants are dancing. Start the phrase and at the same time stamp one of your feet on the ground with great energy.. This is something gypsy violinists do. See how it affects what you do....

Listen to a lot of Gitlis playing the Bartok Unaccompanied sonata.

Also I recommend careful study of the Bartok 44 duets. If you can find a really wild player to do them with , good. Or maybe your teacher. Or record one part or whatever. Well worthy an in depth study and memorization practice as well. Play one pat and sing the other!



July 1, 2015 at 08:14 PM · Buri, I love your spelling, but as to calling me a drain.....

July 1, 2015 at 08:19 PM · you absorb everythiung and what comes out is fertile?

July 1, 2015 at 10:48 PM · ..............

July 2, 2015 at 02:51 PM · Christian, my Between The Notes comment also referred to occasional discrepancies betwwen the two hands. The bow sometimes anticipates a shift, or alternatively continues while the finger starts to leave the string. The result is an occasional extraneous fuzz or whine.

This can sound a bit like a elementary violinist, which you are evidently not!!

July 2, 2015 at 08:21 PM · I really appreciated the comment about "between the notes" because after listening to some of my own playing, I think that's right where I need to do some serious work. Thanks for that insight, Adrian! But I'll also point out that getting things right "between the notes" is one of the hallmark features of Simon Fischer's approach to practicing scales. So maybe I should focus my effort there.

July 2, 2015 at 09:53 PM · Thanks everyone. This is a lot of good advice.

Buri, I suppose I hadn't worked it out the degree that you stated. I was going for a sort of naive simplicity in the main theme, and was hoping that I brought out the contrast with "rougher" sections more, but as I listened, it didn't really come through.

Paul, I will consider my posture more. I think it may look a little funky, since I have a long neck, and I have a kreddle boosted up to maximum height. I could always be a little more comfortable though.

Adrian, I see what you mean. I was noticing some of those false start moments even while I was playing. And as far as the articulation and different bow strokes go, a lot more variety would highlight tonal shifts in the music. I didn't realize that what I took to be extroverted playing under my ear might sound pretty meek farther away.

A lot to think about!

July 4, 2015 at 11:57 AM · Adrian, at shcool (Bury, that's how I have just typed it - WORD or Outlook would have corrected it for me automatically and even now there is a wavy red line under it. Actually, until a few years ago, my typing used to be free from these transpositions) we called one of my best friends Adrain.

July 4, 2015 at 03:41 PM · Even my mother spelled it out that way to a friend on the phone!

July 5, 2015 at 10:10 AM · hi Adrian, what did you mean by "the bow anticipates a shift"?

July 5, 2015 at 01:20 PM · jean, For us poor right-handed folk, the bow can tend to take the initiative when the left hand isn't quite ready. With or without a shift, the note then starts poorly: an unwanted semi-slide, or just a slightly whiny or skiddy start to the note.

I hear similar effect when our attention abandons a note before the end, when we are already preparing the next one.

July 5, 2015 at 07:59 PM · Greetings, yes , as another poor right handed dude.

The question of bowing integrating with shifting is very important and although it isnt actually that complex it is worth being very clear about what one is trying to do at such points.

Suppose you have two minims (I think our trans atlantic cousins call these half notes)involving a position change. Lets say b first finger to d third position on the a string.

In order to arrive exactly on the third beat with a clear start to the note one has to rob a little time from the previous note to shift in. During this shift you may well lighten the bow slightly and reduce its speed in order to make the shift as inaudible as possible.This is called `ghosting`

If one is going to play separate bows then usually the shift begins early, again robbing the first note and you dont change bow until you have reached the second note with the left hand. These are example of what Simon Fischer calls technical timing and musical timing. The technical timing is what you need to do , in what order to arrive on the musical beat as it would occur as an abstract phrase not being played by any specific instrument.

If, as Adrian says, the bow moves too soon you will hear the shifting very clearly and even if the left hand finger plonks down on the new note exactly on the beat (good musical timing) the note will have been preceded by metaphysical doggy poo.

It is perhaps worth mentioning in passing that -deliberately- doing the bow change early to highlight the shift as an expressive effect is a legitimate technique. IT is one that can quickly turn into an unwelcome artifice and is probably best avoided at this stage. Heifetz was the master of this particular device. Another player who seems to me to be using it less than effectively is the wonderful violinst Christian Ferras although it might have been a mannerism he was not so aware of. Nowadays it is not used much although Zimmerman indulges on occasion.



January 11, 2016 at 11:29 PM · Hey Y'all,

I performed the Martinu again, and wanted to post a little progress in the last 7 months. Here's the 2nd movement. Reading through this thread, there is a lot of good advice I still need to incorporate into my practicing, but I was a lot happier with this go around. Thoughts are always welcome.

Martinu Sonatina Movt. 2

Thanks for all the previous advice.

January 14, 2016 at 06:31 PM · nicely done! your playing has an open and balanced tone. best of luck with your next pieces.

I have issues similar to your crooked bowing. it's partly an illusion from having a contact point shifted dramatically to the index and middle fingers and it's most pronounced on the g string.

your detache practice will fix it. it doesn't creep back too much into my bowing any longer, but I have to be vigilant. I frequently will run some slow detache arpeggios G(open)-C-D(open)-G-B-D-F#-G, and reverse, from a Fiorillo etude, tracking the bow for 5-7 inches and focusing on maintaining a straight bow. This is played dramatically under tempo.

The focus is on staying above the violin, and pushing rather than pulling; the crookedness is from pulling away and deviating from the straight bowing line. I hope this doesn't come across as pedantic, but I also don't want to covet what helped me to straighten my bowing.

January 15, 2016 at 07:02 PM · Thanks Alex. For me, I constantly need to work on pushing out the elbow towards the end of downbows. It happens with me when I get tense and am playing more complicated detache runs. I'm working on the Kreisler P&A now, and it is a problem in some of the runs in the allegro (Not to mention the spiccato). I guess slow practice for the win! Working with my bow hold and transferring the weight across the fingers throughout the stroke is also something I'm working on, and having that relaxation throughout my bowhold tends to keep my whole arm relaxed, for straighter bowing.

January 16, 2016 at 01:52 AM · :-)

Apologies that I haven't listened yet [data-stream issues], but even at comments level, I appreciate so much Christian your programming [I am another Martinu freak!!] and especially your bravery and openness sharing and seeking advice here, and in general everyone's earnest and detailed replies. Here's the nuts-and-bolts goodness of community I really like, despite my own digital distance recently...!!

Thanks, all !

March 29, 2016 at 01:40 AM · Hey Y'all,

I'm just going to keep updating this once in a while. I put up a new video for Good Friday. An arrangement of the Erbarme Dich from St. Matthew Passion by Bach. For those expecting a singer, sorry, hopefully next year.

Of course, feedback is great. Things I noticed:

-Shifting is a little heavy and meowy

-Intonation could be a little closer

-It could probably sing a little more

The tempo may be a little slower than you are used to, but I tend to hear it that way in my head. I like faster versions too, but some of the HIP people get a little carried away.

My direct question to anyone experienced in recording themselves - Any recommendations on an easy set-up with better audio? I'm using a zoom Q3, which isn't bad by any means, but there's got to be better mic options that won't break the bank or be a huge pain to set up.

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