questions about Barber concerto

December 18, 2018, 12:36 PM · Hi everyone,
I'm currently between teachers for a bit and I'm working on the first movement of the Barber concerto for an audition recording for a summer chamber music workshop. God, I love this piece! Anyway I'm having some questions about it that I'm hoping to get some help on.

-Can anyone recommend some studies or etudes that are particularly relevant to this concerto?
-The quarter note = 100 metronome marking seems ridiculously fast given the character of the piece. All the recordings I've listened to seem to agree with me. What's up with this, though?
-For the audition I need to play first movement of a concerto and a movement of solo Bach. Recently I've been working on the Grave and the Allegro from Bach's Sonata #2 in a minor. Which movement do you think would be a better contrast with the Barber? I'm actually leaning towards the Allegro, even though then it would be two Allegro movements... I just feel that one is more contrasting in terms of the overall mood and character of the pieces.... but please let me know your thoughts!
-for the up-bow spiccato section, is it better to start it on the string or off (I'm talking about the 1st note of the 4 note groups which is on the G string, then later, in the recap, on the D string. Feels awkward to lift up the bow to start off the string but I have a feeling that may be more correct, otherwise the first note doesn't completely match the others??)

Thanks so much, any help is really appreciated.

Replies (5)

December 18, 2018, 1:24 PM · I would choose a tempo according to recordings of top pros.
December 18, 2018, 4:59 PM · 100 is a plausible tempo for the first movement. It does mean thinking more about phrases and paragraphs more than individual syllables, though. Not every violinist wants to miss milking the really juicy stuff.
December 23, 2018, 6:24 PM · I think a good etude for this concerto is Kreutzer No. 1 (for saving the bow and sustained sound) and All of the Sevcik Op. 3 variations for stroke. In terms of tempo I agree I would aim for the middle of what you hear on recordings, although the tempo is somewhat flexible in many places (when the orchestra stops or holds) The upbow spiccato is essentially a flying spiccato stroke, low in the bow and I would start on the string but make them equal sounding. I used to do quite a few of them as it comes, with a downbow retake to get into them. In terms of your Bach question, I think the Allegro would be more contrasting, as I think of Barber as essentially sound oriented more than chops, even though it has some hard passage work too of course. Happy Practicing!
December 24, 2018, 9:26 AM · I would choose a tempo that reflects the musical character, and one that allow you to play the most difficult passage. There's no "right" answer. You know how the tune goes already.

I've ranted about the need to think for ourselves in articulation, fingerings, and bowings. It's the same with tempo. Don't just do what pros or someone does on youtube.

And don't believe metronome markings.

January 8, 2019, 7:27 PM · Thanks so much for the replies! They were all very helpful, I appreciate it... :)

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