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Cello Lessons: “Sonata for Cello - 1st Mvt” by Ligeti

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The first movement of
Ligeti's solo Sonata for
cello is called Dialogo.
It means, Dialogue.
And when you hear this piece,
you definitely hear
a conversational back and forth.
From a few different characters.
We've got a pizzicato character.
Then, we've got a low character.
That guy.
And we go back to pizzicato.
then we have a high character
It starts out pretty weak,
but as the piece progresses,
that high character keeps evolving.
It's actually the low character that kind
of keeps it steady whenever he appears.
So, because there's a lot of back and
forth conversational character,
when I play this piece
I like to really be conscience of using
different sounds for different characters.
So for that low character,
the low guy on the C string here,
I'm really sinking in with my arm weight
and using like a wide, slow vibrato.
Like a male bass opera singer.
And then when I go to the higher voice,
I'm using a thinner,
faster vibrato and more bow speed.
These, this basic
contrast to me really helps set
up this conversation.
There's also some various
lines in this piece.
Like there's this walk up
that happens a few times.
You can hear these two
voices going back and forth.
If you want to,
you can sort of look in
different directions for
each voice to really get in this
vibe of responding to yourself,
in a way, and
really making this conversation audible.
In addition to characters,
we always wanna think of what
is the most passionate peak
point of the movement.
There's a couple options actually,
when we get up really high and
so it's really gonna come down
to your personal interpretation,
where you feel the highest point might be.
It could be the very beginning
of the poco piu mosso here.
That hard little part.
But a little bit later there's
some more passionate playing.
So as you're working on these notes,
you always wanna find the highest point
and the lowest point of the movement.
So you can try and
bring that out in your interpretation.
This is a pretty tricky movement.
There's a lot of fingering
choices that can make or
break your performance of this piece.
So I'm gonna give you my recommended
bowings and fingerings in a PDF download.
The music for this piece can be bought
through the Shot Publishing Company,
and it will come with the second movement,
which we can also learn together,
after the first movement.
Maybe the last big picture
thing I'll say is that Ligeti,
this was written very early in
his compositional evolution.
It was written in like 1948 and
revised in 1953.
For a 20th century piece,
this movement is unusually melodic.
That's actually one of
the reasons I like it.
A lot of 20th century music
doesn't really have melodies
that are this strong and passionate.
So after we learn this, though, it's
gonna help us develop some technique and
some conceptual approaches to music.
But we can sort of move on and learn
the second movement, and then maybe some
other more edgy 20th century pieces
after we start with the Ligeti Sonata.