Why is it so hard to do dynamics in the Mendelssohn violin concerto Mov. 2?

July 26, 2018, 4:01 AM · Maybe this is just me, I'm not too sure but I find it so difficult to do dynamics in the second movement of the Mendelssohn violin concerto. I'm not bad at dynamics and I don't struggle with it in other pieces, its just this particular piece. And honestly, in general, my intonation and rhythm in the piece is good but I'm struggling to make it sound nice. I have less than 2 months to my exam, please help! Thank you so much.

Replies (8)

July 26, 2018, 4:20 AM · Perhaps because it is a slow piece? Anyway the main technique here is bowing closer or further from the bridge, with appropriate varying of pressure, but keeping the bow speed high enough. Another way of changing the dynamics is playing the same passage on different strings, e.g., first using the A-string, the second time playing the same staying on the D-string. Best of luck!
July 26, 2018, 6:51 AM · Hard to say what's the problem but there are more things that just volume changes in dynamics, and there more than a few ways to control dynamics, too.

Tone colors play a more important role IMHO. Dynamics in concerto is always a problem, you don't want to get drowned by the orchestra by playing too soft.

July 26, 2018, 7:35 AM · Dynamics in concerto work are somewhat of an illusion. As Mr. Jefferson said above, you do not want to get overwhelmed by the orchestra. Therefore, a piano in a concerto can be much different from an orchestral piano.

I suggest varying the tonal colors and vibrato to amplify the illusion that you are playing at various dynamics. For instance, a loud section would have a larger vibrato amplitude than a soft section. You can test this by playing a scale at the same dynamic (decibel) range, but try to impart the illusion of louder and software using vibrato and tone color (contact point).

July 26, 2018, 1:38 PM · The soloist has a narrower volume range than the orchestra violinist.
In the orchestra we frequently reduce the volume to a true pp, next to nothing. The soloist should always be heard, except for a couple of spots where the composer decides to let the orchestra dominate.
The softest that the soloist plays will be a "spun-tone" clear, mp that is still heard at the back of the hall, like an opera singer doing a "soto voce" that is still heard. Mendelssohn 2nd movement has plenty of opportunities for this. For the first entrance melody, aim for your best quality sound, not your loudest or softest.
July 26, 2018, 4:56 PM · Yeah, the dynamic marking "piano" is easily misunderstood when playing solo, especially in a concerto.

Think of it as a tone color, not as an actual dynamic.

July 26, 2018, 6:22 PM · This is a bow control issue, and Jean has some good suggestions.
July 26, 2018, 9:13 PM · Dynamics, in terms of decibels, are always relative to what else is going around you. In a concerto, even a pianissimo is basically a "pp attitude", as opposed to something that doesn't produce plenty of projection. (Whereas, for instance, a marking of forte in chamber music might be a "forte attitude" if you're supporting harmony, i.e., you need to be below other more prominent parts.)
July 27, 2018, 10:38 AM · I mean, dynamics is always relative though ... i think the fact you are competing with like 40+ strings players makes it legal for you to play as loud as you can

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