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Violin Lessons: Mahler - Symphony #9 4th Mvt, opening - 7 after m. 12

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The last movement of
Mahler's Ninth Symphony is a monumental
It's very long, very draining in
And the, the opening is pretty
representative that it's worth
asking yourself why a committee would want
hear this excerpt in an audition because
there's really no standard way to play it.
Therefore the only reason they'd want to
hear it is to hear your
personal expression, you're
It's traditionally played almost all on
the G string
actually all on the G string for, for
quite a while into this movement.
I suggest you do the same.
That, that's the appropriate sound.
There's a lot of struggle involved in this
piece in general and
especially in this last movement.
And that, that struggle is not represented
very well on the other strings.
It should still be in tune but, you have
time to work around these intervals.
That's, that's part of the expression.
Free glissandi, free bowings.
What is not always free though is the
We've got two bars in the very beginning
and those are way out of time.
You have a chance to explore the, the
limits of your, your sound there.
But after that there should be a pulse,
albeit quite slow.
But that, that's kind of the inexorable
march of fate or
destiny, whatever you wanna call it, a
very slow heartbeat.
And that should remain.
So anything you do around that pulse is
But, but that must remain.
There's a very curious marking in the
third bar right where the pulse comes in.
Piano molto espressivo, and grosser tone,
or in other words, big sounds.
So it's piano but with a big sound and
molto espressivo.
So, what do we make of that?
Definitely, don't play it piano like you
would play a Mozart piano or, or
even, a Brahms piano or something like
It's, it's still going to be a big sound.
I think, the piano is an indication of a
relative dynamic that you, you know?
This is not nearly as powerful and
as fraught with emotion as we're going to
But it, it needs, look more at the molto
Let me give you an idea of the sound for
the beginning and then for the third bar.
So you have plenty of time, for the, for
the shifts and for the accents,
which are, are real accents.
It's, it's not a subtle emotion.
It's this very old world, really belted
out there.
Now for the third bar, where the, the
pulse comes in and
there aren't any accents written, there
you want something smooth, powerful.
So, I don't ar, articulate the bow
But, the sound itself, it might resemble
your sound in the Brahms Fourth Symphony,
in the, in the slow movement there for the
G string section.
So you're, you're saving room for
the accents and for more pointed
articulations later.
But it's, it's very expressive.
You want to pay attention to the so-called
three, the three variables.
The bow variables in this.
Cuz that's going to determine whether you
sink or
swim, really, with, with such changing
string lengths.
For example, that very first shift.
You go from nearly the whole length
of the G string, when you're down on the A
And then when you shift to the higher A
flat, you're,
you're cutting the string in half.
So the bow has to respond, has to get
closer to the bridge.
To sustain that top A flat on such a thick
string as the G string,
you can use a slow bow speed.
That gives you a lot of comfort because
you realize that you have tons of bow to
And it also gives you a nice edge, nice
sheen to the G string sound.
During the shift itself, you want to make
sure that you, you fuel it, really,
that you, you give it some bow, both speed
and pressure.
And as the, as the excerpt gets more
powerful and more sustained toward the end
of, of our section here you're gonna wanna
use that spot near the bridge
with a slow bow and good pressure, a nice
flat hair in order to sustain.
If I skip ahead a few bars.
If I were in this slow
pulse, if I were to try and
sustain a dotted quarter any
further from the bridge.
You'll hear that the sound gets on its way
to cracking and, and I don't have nearly
the dynamic range that I would have.
So, [COUGH] you need to really watch your
contact point here.
Either go cross-eyed and look at it
yourself or, or use a mirror until
you get a good feel, a good physical feel
for just how close you are to the bridge.
You wanna push it right up to the limit,
let's say, in practice.
And then in performance, you're free to
back off just that little bit to give
you a little safety while still providing
a powerful expression in this excerpt.