«A Dissertation Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in partial fulfillment of ...»
The choice of the thumb became more of a practical matter in mm. 668-670. In m. 668 I play the D♯-B minor sixth with my first and second fingers so that in mm. 669-670 I can go back and forth between the D♯ and D♮ with my thumb. Using second finger to anticipate each position change in these measures did not feel as comfortable because the intervals are much larger going between B-F♯-B. I felt it was much easier to use the semitones and thus the smaller spaces to orient my left hand. I also found it easier to find the pitches on the A string relative to my thumb, rather than finding the pitches on the D string relative to my second and third fingers.
7.11 Thoughts on Performance Most of the performance strategies that I employ in this movement have to do with endurance and saving energy. I often compare playing the third movement to competing in a long distance endurance event such as a marathon. Pacing can make the difference between finishing with a good time or hitting the wall half way through and crawling on hands and knees to the finish. In a complete performance of the piece fatigue can easily become a problem as the
solution to this problem was to find as many opportunities in the third movement to rest or recover, and to then use what energy I had in reserve at the bigger moments.
Energy conservation begins immediately in the third movement. I found that if I kept the tempo on the conservative side (perhaps a little less molto vivace) I was able to expend less physical energy without losing any of the musical energy. Starting with too brisk a tempo increased the possibility for more technical problems in the fast passages in mm. 35-38 and mm.
41-44. Even Starker suggested beginning the third movement with a tempo that can handle what is coming, and to begin with a tempo that is “not the youthful one.”69 As the movement continued I tried to find places in which I could use less energy or take time to recover slightly.
The opening of the dominant transition was a place that I could reserve some energy for the upcoming recapitulation. The dynamics remain at pianissimo between mm. 326-346 when the crescendo begins. I used the tremolo at the beginning of this section to rest my right arm and the simple left hand passage to recover from the awkwardly shaped arpeggios of the cadenza on the previous page. The transitional passage following the recapitulation in mm. 436-445 (Figure 61), as counterintuitive as it may seem, is another place where I felt as though I could bring the energy level down. The recapitulation of the first theme group that immediately precedes this passage is marked fortissimo marcatissimo and is a generally boisterous passage. However, the transition is marked only forte and there is no need to use the same amount of energy in this passage. In this section I not only used a lower dynamic level, but I used a lighter bow on the chords. This not only helped physically but there was also greater clarity in the sound in a
458-469 was also an ideal spot to let the body relax. The theme is now in tonic and there are plenty of open strings and simple left hand configurations to take advantage of. In general, any place that uses more than two open strings at once is a place in which the cellist can do less work without being any less musical or expressive. As with any practice technique such as shifting or learning a fingering or bowing pattern, these energy saving measures have to be implemented in practice so that they become a natural part of the way the piece is played. The nervousness that performers experience often has the effect of amnesia: we forget to do things that are second nature in otherwise normal situations. In my own experience with performing this movement, the tempo was the first casualty and the faster tempo resulted in mistakes that would not have occurred had I pulled back ever so slightly. Although it seems easy enough to implement these energy conserving measures at any point during the learning process, it is advisable to employ them early on and strive to make them an integral part of the performance.
My discussion of Kodály’s Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello, Op. 8 has focused on the difficulties I faced in playing the piece and the solutions that I worked through to attempt to solve these difficulties. I have also offered some historical insight into various aspects of the piece, and formally analyzed each movement because I have always found that my connection with and understanding of any piece I play is strengthened when I explore it away from the cello.
The use of a scordatura tuning, unique writing for the cello, and the technical challenges in the Sonata were also determining factors in many of the decisions that I made with regard to technical execution of certain passages. These solutions stem from how I approach the cello from a technical standpoint. My solutions will not work for every cellist, because many of the choices I made were determined by the size my left hand, the length of my fingers, and what bowing or fingering felt the most comfortable for me. Every cellist must decide what produces the best results physically and musically. Furthermore, these solutions represent what I am capable of at this moment in my life as a cellist, and as I progress musically and technically my solutions may change. However, I believe that most, if not all, of the solutions I have offered in this document are applicable to cello playing regardless of style or genre. The guiding principles outlined in Chapter 3 are applicable to every aspect of my playing, from chamber music and concertos, to orchestral repertoire. Ultimately, my objective is not to convince other cellists to play the way that I play. Instead I offer another perspective on the process of learning a piece and solving some of the problems of cello playing with strategies and principles that allowed me to learn a piece that I treasure and for which the world of cello playing is better.
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Celeste Power, cellist, is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of New Mexico in 2005, and a Master of Music from the University of Oklahoma in 2007. Celeste began her doctoral studies at Louisiana State University in 2009, and earning her DMA in May of 2013. Celeste has studied cello with Dr. David Schepps at the University of New Mexico, Dr. Jonathan Ruck at the University of Oklahoma, and Professor Dennis Parker at Louisiana State University. Celeste has toured with orchestras in Mexico and the United States, and performed in Europe and United States as a chamber musician. Celeste has been a member of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra since 2011. Outside her musical life, Celeste is a competitive cyclist and races on both the road and the velodrome. Celeste has been a member of the LSU Cycling Team since 2010 and has participated in collegiate road and track races in Texas and Louisiana. Celeste also races for Raising Cane’s Racing, and placed in state championship races and won titles on the track in 2012.