Type of Articulation to be used in Mozart 5
I was just wondering: should the semiquaver passages in the allegro aperto section of Mozart 5 be played with an spiccato stroke or a more detache (on the string) one?
I feel like the recent trend is for violinists to execute spiccato in many running notes sections of the piece (I am talking mainly about the 1st movt). Listening to more contemporary recordings such as those by Anne-Sophie Mutter,Julia Fischer, Vilde Frang and Nikola Znaider,I found that a lively, bouncy bow stroke was often employed. This manner of articulation, my teacher sort of disagrees with, being a wrong interpretation, but yet we see competition winners like Nancy Zhou and Diana Tishchenko in last year's ISIVC doing so. Here are the Youtube links for your reference:
What opinions to you all have on their interpretion of Mozart 5?
thanks in advance!
What's a semiquaver? Oh never mind, I looked it up. He's talking about the 16th notes in the opening exposition of the Allegro Aperto on the first page.
For early classical, Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven, right now the pendulum is swinging against the more percussive off-string style that was popular 20 or 30 years ago. If you listen to the Perlman/Askenazy Mozart and Beethoven sonatas, Perlman played a lot more percussively than most people would play today.
And BTW those two performances linked are very nice but I don't think they're really great Mozart. Zhao's sound seems thin to me, not in the string enough, often too high in the bow (some of that could be the recording) and the Tishchenko is someone trying to play Mozart like it's a late 19th century piece with huge lush vibrato. I'm not a period-performance purist at all, but I don't think either of these performances reflects state of the art Mozart.
I didn't like either performance either, and I especially thought that the first one's bow stroke was inappropriate. Bows in this time, especially since Mozart wrote these pieces early in his life, just did not bounce that much. If you Google transitional bows you will see that many still had features closer to a Baroque bow. This website has some nice pictures comparing bows from Baroque through transitional if you are interested: http://www.baroque-violin.info/trad.html
@Paul you have a really good point, about taking time to develop a particular type of off the string stroke that works best for the player. I, for one, have gone through that process, having already learned the concerto for quite a long time. Now I am employing a spiccato stroke similar to those Nancy Zhou and Diana Tishchenko used, but recently I was getting "insecure" about employing off the string articulation in the semiquaver passages. I'm especially curious: what would judges think about this if I performed Mozart 5 this way for a violin competition?
Depends on the judges. If they're old Russian School violinists they might want something that sounds like Heifetz or Perlman -- i.e. constant wide, aggressive vibrato, virtuosic stick technique (how about working in some up-bow staccato while you're at it?)
I say show off your bow stroke ... but not all the time. Just enough that the judges can see you do it. And while you are doing it, make big eyes at the judges -- like Ray Chen did at the QE. In the reprise of the main theme you may want to exaggerate contrast so it might be good to uncork your sautille there. Always ask yourself: What would Nigel Kennedy do?
The difficulty with Mozart is two-fold. First, most people don't understand what the articulations are meant. Secondly, the use of the modern bow.
I just say follow your dreams.
@Thomas in your earlier post, you mentioned the possibility of using an "on the string sautille where the bow hair is articulating but the bow never leaves the string", and it is interesting that my teacher also talked about a "special" stroke used primarily when playing Mozart, where the bow is always on the string, but manages to produce a particular sound giving off the impression of spiccato.
@Paul: just curious, but why Nigel Kennedy?
There is a gradual continuum from plain-vanilla on-the-string detache to the light, very fast, piano, orchestral style spiccato that is first used(?) in Mendelssohn. It is also used by some in the 4th movement of the last Mozart symphony. In the orchestra we frequently use that in-between style labeled "brush-stroke". The only difference between sautille and spiccato that I know is that one word is French and the other Italian. The Mendelssohn style spiccato is not loud enough for concerto solos. Instead, there is a more forceful bounce below the balance point. I don't know the label for that.
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