Monday, October 11, 2010
Verdi La Traviata - Intro Act 1
This is a common excerpt, especially for opera orchestra auditions. And my video clip is:-
What is being tested - tuning, shifting, string crossings, tempo and the ability to keep in time at different dynamics, note lengths and articulations, huge dynamic range
Notes written on the part - I put reminders to myself to read in the audition just before I play. For this excerpt they are:-
Start on string close to G and D
Arrow forward at the start, dont drag
Arrow back 4 after 20, dont rush
How to prepare
Tempo and Rhythm - I perform this as minim = 100. I have to work hard to overcome my natural tendancy to drag at the start (quiet means slow doesnt it??) and rush the crochets 4 after 20.
Tuning and shifts - the first part (up to 20) is a bit like a shifting technical exercise. It starts with a two bar passage based in F min for two bars then jumps up a semitone to G flat min for the next two bar phrase. There are three shifts the way I finger the passage, a semitone, tone and minor third. The exercises below are aimed at checking the tuning of the tone and minor third shifts, a la Duncan McTier's shifting exercises:-
Fig 1 - tone shift exercise
Fig 2 - minor third shift exercise
Once the shifts have been mastered, I would work with a Korg tuner and play the piece in a slow tempo, stopping to check tuning at key notes, like the high ones as shown below:-
Fig 3 - tuning check
I use a Korg tuner to check intonation but the exercise in Fig 3 can be done by stopping and holding notes to check with the open strings, such as the G last note bar 1, D 4th note of bar 4, G start of bar 5 etc.
Dynamics - huge range. I delay the cresc slightly, start close to the tip and over the fingerboard. I mark p in bar 9, mp in 11, mf in 13, f in 15 to help gauge the cresc. My aim is to move the bow a little toward the bridge and increase bow speed, by moving nearer the frog.
Bow control - it is tricky to control the dynamics and keep in time. There are three basic strokes, the figure up to 20 I play on the string, the quavers at 20 I play off and the accents in the 5th of 20 I start from the string.