NATHANIEL ROSEN MASTER CLASS REPORT
On February 24, 1996, Nathaniel Rosen conducted a cello master class at the University of Puget Sound, in Tacoma, Washington. Mr. Rosen is a renowned soloist and recording artist. He is also known for being only the second American to win the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1978, this while the West was still in the heat of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The following items were discussed:
by Tim Finholt
- Play with confidence. Missing a note is better than playing meekly.
- When doing audible slides around a change in bow direction, do them after
the bow change, not before.
- Keep thumb down in thumb position. This will lessen the tension in the
other fingers and will allow a faster vibrato.
- Mr. Rosen practices scales and arpeggios regularly.
- Everybody tends to play out of tune in exactly the same way. For example, in thumb position with the thumb on the D harmonic on the D string, everybody plays the E (first finger) high, the F# low, and the G high. The A should be a perfect fourth with the A above, the F# should be a minor third with the A above, and the G should be a perfect two octaves above the open G string.
- For a more intense vibrato, pull the fingers closer together.
- The left hand is the expression of our thoughts; the right hand is our voice.
- The fingers should be thought of as lying on top of the stick of the bow
and wrapping around the frog. This usually results in playing with more of
the hair on the strings, which creates a better sound.
- The bow should pivot between the thumb and second finger to create a
- Good bowing exercise to create an even sound throughout the entire bow:
Play slow scales (one note to a whole bow) and crescendo from piano to
fortissimo on down bows, and diminish from fortissimo to piano on up bows.
- Pluck the strings closer to the bridge when playing pizzicato. This
will create more sound.
- In chamber music, Mr. Rosen looks at the bow and fingers of the other
players, not necessarily their faces or their cues.
- We all become "emotionally attached" to the difficulties in a piece. Keep an open mind for new fingerings and bowings that can make life easier.
- Though the printed editions of the Shostakovich Sonata don't indicate
it, Mr. Rosen suggests playing the last eight bars of the first movement
somewhat faster, closer to the tempo at the beginning of the movement. This
was done by Rostropovich and Shostakovich.
- The more memory slips you have, the less you will fear them :)