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Violin Lessons: Brahms - Symphony #2, m. 17 - Reh. B

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Brahms' second Symphony has
a deceptively difficult opening,
especially to execute in an audition.
It has to be absolutely smooth from both
hands because it,
it really needs to be an unbroken line.
It's another one of these that has a giant
slur marked over it.
But, and, and
needs to retain that sound even though we
actually have to change bow.
To get your opening pulse here, it's
probably better
to think of rehearsal a that has a more
moving theme.
Since it includes eight notes there,
it's easier to get a handle on the pulse.
It's easy to start this one, actually too
slowly and to get stuck.
That makes it more difficult, and it means
tghat when you get to rehearsal A,
your tempos aren't going to match, and
committees never like that.
So, I have my eighth notes in mind from A.
The bow changes,
as with any bow changes,
are gonna sound smooth when
the sound at the end of one bow is,
matches the sound at the beginning of the
next bow.
So it's, it's helpful to have a little
tilt to the hair for
this, just to, to take a little edge off
the sound.
[SOUND] And, it's also important to have
fingers down in advance.
For example, that first bow change which I
do on the octave,
I wanna have my fourth finger down before
I change the bow.
There are a couple of reasons for that.
It's, it's nice to set the octave in
advance to get it in tune.
But also, when you put a finger down on a
that string gets a little bit lower,
therefore the crossing becomes easier.
If you try to time it so that you're
putting the finger down at the same time
as you change bow, you can have an uneven
bow change.
And, you'll see that I also vibrate
both notes at the same time as well.
That, that just makes the sound that much
more seamless.
Let's talk now about the fingerings that
you choose for this opening.
You don't wanna be, you know, sliding up
and down the finger board for this.
That's gonna get in the way of the smooth
line, and so gonna be doing some reaching.
When you reach, remember of course, that
you, you reach first, and
then let the hand catch up.
So, I start in fourth position.
my first reach back.
So again, you reach first
then let the hand catch up.
It's important to practice
that sequence with some etudes or
just repetition like that,
that you're not moving the hand at the
same time.
Otherwise, it becomes somewhere between a
reach and a shift, and
you're gonna hear it as a bump.
It's gonna be neither one, nor the other.
If you'll look, after Rehearsal A, we have
a shift up to a high G.
And for that, you want to remember the
guide finger and where it should be.
[SOUND] It would be a mistake just
to take a stab at the high G and
hope the descending fingers go in the
right place.
It's just, besides being sort of bad
violin high G makes for a, a scary shift
that it increases
the chance that you're gonna play
something out of tune in the audition.
So, practice that, gradually decreasing
the pressure of the guide finger.
gradually decreasing the time that you
hear the guide finger.
Now, the,
the excerpt gradually wakes up.
Now, we're getting toward a forte.
If you look at bar 61, have eighth notes
with dots.
There are two main ways you can play this,
on or off the string.
You have to decide what sounds stronger.
Remember this is, this is Brahm's.
It should be weighty.
It should sound important, steady.
If you use an off the strings stroke,
you have to be sure that it doesn't sound
inconsequential or just harsh.
This would be too short.
You can try and lengthen it.
You can make sure that you have a little
And, to be sure that you're using
enough bow that it sounds like a forte,
a weighty forte, rather than a, a
percussive forte.
I prefer to play it on the string, a real
similar length to what you just heard.
I often prefer
this with Brahms.
I find that it gives me more control.
And, that as long as I'm using my ear to
determine the exact length that I want,
then it's easier for me to control the
sound on the string.
But, that's a choice you'll have to make
depending on your instrument and
how it fits in with the rest of the line.
Overall, this excerpt needs to wake up
from absolutely sweet to something
strong and important, but without, without
arrogance, without an edge.