Message from the Editor
I have a lot of people to thank for their help in making this issue of Tutti Celli possible. First, I would like to thank Robert Battey for making me aware of Charlotte Lehnhoff's remarkable essays on the Beethoven A Major Sonata (the first three of six parts are published in this issue). Thanks also go to Chris Roberson, Saskia Latendresse, Deborah Mishoe, Laura Wichers, and Douglas Jenkins for their typing help with this article. I would like to thank Bobbie Mayer too, who has been with the ICS since the early days, for her delightful profile of cellist/historian Valerie Walden, and for her help with editing the conversations we excerpt from Cello Chat. I am also grateful to Terry Maurice, a highly valued contributer on our chat boards, for his enthusiasm about writing his Membership Spotlight. My plea for help with the newsletter was answered most resoundingly. I am most thankful (and relieved).
Thank you all!
>> I am writing in regards to your article on a new film about Jacqueline du Pré. I think that you are totally obsessed with Jackie. It seems like every time I receive an ICS newsletter, you always have some documentary on Jacqueline du Pré. Don't you think four films on this extraordinary cellist is enough? COME ON!
Yes, du Pré is one of my favorite cellists too, and is rightfully acclaimed as one of the greatest cellists of her generation. But have you ever stopped to think that there are other legendary cellists that don't get the same attention that she does?
Let's take for example her teachers: William Pleeth and Rostropovich -- they were the ones that inspired Jackie to further on in her technical studies.
But what about some other legendary cellists past/present that my former cello teachers talk about highly: Pierre Fournier, Timothy Eddy, Leonard Rose, Steven Isserlis, Piatigorsky, Lynn Harrell, Ofra Harnoy, Alban Gerhardt, Jeffrey Solow, Wendy Warner, Anner Bylsma, and one critically acclaimed, yet underrated cellist Tanya Remenikova. I met her at a cello festival in Kansas City a few years ago, and I was so impressed with how she plays the cello with all of her heart and soul!
They are all such outstanding performers/teachers who have studied and played around the globe, and it's really sad that they don't get acknowledged as much as Jackie does. I'm surprised that you don't even have a web page highly devoted to Yo-Yo Ma!
My point is: It's time to start realizing that there are a whole bunch of outstanding cellists out there besides Jacqueline du Pré, and that they should be recognized for their extraordinary talent.
Editor's reply: http://www.cello.org/Libraries/Documents.html. By the way, who is this "Yo-Yo" character?
>> I was fascinated with Nicholas Anderson's article. I had briefly experienced some of Margaret Rowell's wisdom while I was teaching public school music here in Livermore. I enjoy keeping informed about the cello world through Tutti Celli!
>> Regarding how performers feel after a performance: It sounds like they are neurotic because on the one hand they are complaining that ignorant people are saying nice things about their performance, not knowing anything about the music, and then they are complaining when critics ask them specific questions and criticize the specifics, and then they complain when a colleague says they play nicely! Sheesh, I think they are hung up on performance and should just relax and love the music.... That is why everyone loves Yo-Yo Ma so much.... I doubt he gets all hung up on what people think and just goes on stage and does his thing with great confidence and love for performing. There is too much perfectionism in training and music school and too much of an emphasis on competition etc.
Just play and enjoy it and be your own judge of yourself and character. Who cares what everyone thinks? Music isn't about what other people think, it is about expressing your own voice, musically speaking, and sharing a talent.
>> What a phenomenal interview of Mr. Parisot in the latest edition of Tutti Celli! I am just catching up on my reading and enjoyed this piece immensely. Having studied with Parisot at Yale, his comments, stories, and reactions in the interview really resonated throughout, and these, many years later, helped me to understand much of my own musical values and reasonings about playing the cello. Mr. Parisot is an amazing teacher; what he gives his students keeps paying dividends throughout their lives, each in their own unique way. His gift is recognizing this miracle, and giving so unselfishly of himself in the process. Thanks for spotlighting this brilliant artist. The world is a richer place because of him.
Assoc. Professor of Cello
University of Montana
>> I just finished the interesting interview with Nathaniel Rosen, which I found at your web site. Thank you for your efforts. My daughter will be studying with Nathaniel this fall, so I'm glad to be able to read some of his thoughts. Thanks!
>> I really appreciate your web page and it's tips regarding the cello. I am a licensed music teacher in Tennessee. I hold an Instrumental Music Education Degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Presently I teach 5-7 graders at a Magnet School for the Arts. I will inform my cello students of the page once school begins on August 16. I am a Bassist myself and love playing bass and cello. In the beginning strings class I teach violin and cello, and, at 6'5" tall, the violin seems to be quite "cramping."
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by Tim Janof
Frans Helmerson has performed with many of today's finest conductors and orchestras, touring throughout Europe, the USA, South America, Asia, and Australia since the late 1970's. His love for chamber music led him to take the position of Artistic Director of the Korsholm Chamber Music Festival in Finland as well as appearing at many other renowned festivals.
Since 1992 Frans Helmerson has held a Professorship at the Musikhochschüle in Cologne and has held similar positions in Oslo, Stockholm, and Madrid. During the current season he is touring as both cellist and conductor throughout Europe, Brazil, and Korea.
His recordings include the Dvorak and Shostakovich concertos, the Brahms Double Concerto with Mihaela Martin, and a recent release of the Bach Solo Cello Suites.
TJ: Your first major cello teacher was Guido Vecchi, whom you studied with from 12 to 18 years old. You said that he "opened your ears to musical color and nuance." Does this mean that he didn't teach technique?
FH: Naturally, he also taught technique, but my lasting impression of him is his sound. I first heard him play when I was eight or nine years old when he came to my small town in Sweden and played a concerto with the local amateur orchestra. As an encore, he played a movement of Bach, which I have never forgotten. I still strive to reproduce his sound in my own playing.
TJ: You joined the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra at age 22, conducted by Sergiu Celibidache. You said that he gave you "musical curiosity." How?
FH: Prior to my time with him, my approach to music was more intuitive, so watching him work was eye-opening. He would delve very deeply into the music before making any interpretive decisions. He studied the harmonies and other compositional aspects in great detail, so he knew what he wanted to do with each note, phrase, movement, and piece. He was one of the great maestros of his day.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
by Charlotte Lehnhoff
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
by Bobbie Mayer
When fellow cellists who are familiar with Dr. Valerie Walden's work learn that she is my teacher, they are often curious about what she is like and what it is like to study with such an eminent scholar. I hope that I can answer these questions with this article.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
What an amazing site! This one should be bookmarked by all students and teachers.
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Today, some friends of my parents were visiting, and they brought their grand children (6 and 8 years old). My brother and his wife were also here with their 6-year-old. I was sitting in the living room practicing Dvorak when the three of them suddenly appeared. They wanted me to tell them everything about the cello: how old it was, if it was a boy or a girl cello, and so on. I got to play Twinkle Twinkle at least four times!
After awhile they decided that they should test me, so they would point at a measure in my Dvorak music and make me play it. It was a great exercise! They would also point at measures in the score and make me play all kinds of different parts. I wouldn't have done this otherwise, so I guess they could teach me something about playing the cello. It really was interesting for all four of us.
When two of them were outside (chasing frogs by the pond together with the cat), I got to perform "Pippi Longstockings" and so on in the living room. The little girl said a couple of times: "Don't stop playing, I like to feel the sound!" Wouldn't she make a great cellist?
When her mother called for her, the little girl thanked me and then said to my cello: "I had a great time listening to you. Could you please sing for me again sometime?" I told her that my cello would be happy to do that. Then she gave my cello (not me) a big hug. I think we might have three very interested young cellists-to-be here.
>>Tape on Fingerboard
Okay. I admit it. I still have my training wheels on: one quarter inch of automobile detail tape on the side of my fingerboard. On the A string, B, C#, D, and E (and a bump under my starting thumb position) have tapes. I have placed them by ear and they are pretty close. I can't seem to find measurements on the internet so I can be sure that they are accurately placed. Can anybody help?
Victor Sazer replies: You might help yourself more by giving up your quest. Tapes on your fingerboard are likely to do more harm than good. Here is an example of approach that may make it easier and quicker for beginners to learn how to play in tune.
1. Play a G on the D string with your second finger, matching it to the open G string.
(Since the octave is the easiest interval to hear, this is a good place to start.)
a. Alternate, using down bows on the upper string and up bows on the lower one to cultivate smooth, connected, figure-eight bowing patterns.
b. Place your second finger on the fingerboard between the D and G strings.
c. Lean your finger toward the side of the D string or pull the string gently to the side . (The only time your string must touch the fingerboard is when you play pizz.)
d. Allow your fingers to be released rather than keeping them in a spread-apart "position".
e. Release your thumb, letting it go where ever it wants to (do not let it touch the back of the neck )
f. Continue matching the G on the D string to the open G in the same way with each of your other fingers playing the upper note.
g. Play the G on the D string an octave higher, again alternating with the open G-string. Begin with your 2nd finger, then use your 1st and 3rd fingers in turn.
h. Move your bow close to the bridge when playing in the upper register.
By this time you will will know that you can play any note anywhere on the cello with any finger.
2. Play three slurred 8th notes in 6/8 time, G-F#-G, using 2-1-2 fingerings followed by a dotted quarter on the open G.
a. Alternate down bows on the three slurred notes and up bows on the open G to continue to reinforce the clockwise bowing pattern.
b. Continue playing the same note pattern using 3-2-3 and then 4-3-4.
c. Allow your arm to move freely when going from note to note, using only one finger at a time.
d. Play the same pattern in the upper octave using 2-1-2 and 3-2-3 (without holding your thumb down).
This way, you can learn to play the 7ths and 3rds high enough (in tune). Oversized half tones are the most common intonation inaccuracies.
3. Play four slurred note patterns using 4-3-1-3 (major scale pattern) in the lower registers and 3-2-1-2 in the upper.
a. Keep your hand in released position as much as possible. Open your hand as needed to reach for a note, but release as soon as the note is reached.
b. Play this pattern in all parts of the cello, starting on various notes at random. The idea is to reinforce the relationship between the notes in this major scale fragment regardless of the starting point.
It can be fun to play all over the cello. Students who begin this way are never fearful of playing any register.
c. When the major pattern is well established you can use the same procedure with the minor grouping of 4-2-1-2 in the lower and 3-2-1-2 in the upper registers.
The practice of ALWAYS holding your hand in a position with your fingers spread apart, presumably, to be over the notes and with your thumb opposite your 2nd finger creates tension and rigidity. This makes it much more difficult to play in tune.
Releasing your fingers eliminates tension and freeing your thumb makes thumb-clutching problems non-existent.
Imagine holding the ends of a rubber band between your thumb and first finger of each hand. Then repeatedly stretch and release it. You would describe the rubber band as elastic. If you stop the flexing and hold the rubber band, even just partially stretched, it is tense.
The same is true of your hand. If you keep it even partially stretched, it is usually more tense than when released. Maintaining elasticity is more productive than holding a "position."
Using tapes and trying to keep your fingers spread over where the notes are supposed to be may very well be the worst thing you can do!
>>Bach Sixth Suite
No one in their right mind would go on stage to play one of the first 5 suites without an A string. Why do we play the 6th without an E string!?
Christopher Chan replies: We play the 6th suite without a 5th string because we don't even play the instrument that it was written for. If you're concerned about playing it with a 5th string you shouldn't even play it on the cello. Adding another string would be the wrong way to go. You'd have to resurrect the viola pomposa, which happens to not be played like a cello, but played on the arm.
Zambocello replies: There's practically no evidence what instrument Bach had in mind for the 6th Suite. The sources only describe to what pitches the five strings should be tuned. There were, of course, a great many off-shoot and hybrid instruments, including 5-string cellos. Even the articles in Groves Dictionary ("Violoncello" and "Viola Pomposa") conflict when it comes to those instruments and Bach's usage/invention.
I know the viola pomposa existed but it's hard to imagine what it would have sounded like. To be played on the arm the box would have been too small for the cello's pitches, and the strings would have to be quite thick and/or flabby. The Groves article suggests it would have been tuned an octave higher than the cello. An interesting observation about the 6th Suite is that it is written in all the sources in bass clef and C clefs, as are other pieces for "leg" instruments. If it was for an "arm" instrument, it would more typically have been in treble clef -- an octave down -- and C clefs. Plus, it was included with the cello pieces, without describing a different instrument for its application. That's why I think it is firstly appropriate as a (5-string, piccolo, leg) cello piece.
I say firstly appropriate rather than more appropriate because, as with a lot of Bach's music, it could work on just about any instrument, including a 4-string cello. I'm interested in studying the G major edition (down a fifth) or making my own similar arrangement, because I suspect the compromises involved in transposing and rewriting the passages that go too low are fewer and less severe than the compromises associated with playing without a top string.
DWThomas replies: I was just going thru some back issues of digests from the harpsichord list and found the following quote, excerpted from a discussion on continuo playing and instrumentation:
"The cello (violon'cello; shrunk violone, again pointing the real ancestry of the violone as a bass violin) was not invented until the mid seventeenth cent., and then it was larger than our modern counterpart. Almost all 17th.c. cellos have been cut down, getting new ribs in the process.
"Very many of the early cellos, and by all means not just the German peasant ones, were five stringers with a high e string. Bach's 6th suite is specifically for this tuning. I just finished restoring a large and not cut-down Turin five string.
"Because of the cumbersome size, a small cello became popular in the first half of the 18th c., and these are usually called 7/8th cellos today, but they are full sized real celli. They have their counterpart in the division viol as opposed to the bass viol. Lully's Basse is a bass violin, a BIG cello probably tuned d, A, E, HH. At least that is what the real experts think at the present. It works, too."
The writer was William Jurgenson, an ex-patriate from Michigan who is a luthier in Germany, building and restoring harpsichords and basses (well, they're both wood and use strings!)
>>How to do Spiccato
I'm a bit confused. I've heard two things from two equally well-qualified cellists about how to play spiccato. One says that the motion originates in the forearm and is pretty much restricted to the fingers and forearm. The other says that the motion originates in the upper arm and the forearm/fingers just acts as intermediaries. I can do it either way, but if one method would have negative implications on any later technique I might learn, I figured the sooner I figure it out the "right" way the better.
Tim Janof replies: I think Starker's rule of thumb is that you start with the larger muscles and work your way to the smaller one's. With fast short strokes (not necessarily spiccato) he recommends that you initiate the stroke with the back, then upper arm, and let the forearm and relatively loose hand flop back and forth as if they are at the end of a whip (i.e. they move the fastest and loosest). If you follow his rule of thumb, you will have less tension. If you start with the smaller muscles, your shoulder and arm will tense up. I assume that he would stick with the same principle when discussing spiccato.
Horst replies to Tim Janof: Your explanation sounds good, but some questions remain. When you do fast spiccatos, your arm and shoulder are so heavy that it takes strong forces to move them even small distances. I see a risk of getting tension beginning those fast small movements in the shoulder and transmitting them to your wrist. Why not keep the shoulder and upper arm totally relaxed, doing the spiccato with the wrist? I think sometimes it is better to avoid couplings between the parts of your arm and shoulder.
Tim Janof replies to Horst: Could be, though, when I try it, my shoulder is less tense when I initiate the motion from my shoulder and upper arm. I think the key may be to prevent immobility during this type of bow stroke. If you keep your arm fixed and just shake your wrist, your shoulder will tighten up-- at least mine does. Maintaining motion in your shoulder should help to prevent the build up of tension.
Gerhard Mantel mentioned your objection in his interview:
"If you simply bow fast notes with a straight bow, your shoulder will tire quickly, since it is trying to quickly shift the large mass of your arm back and forth. The shoulder is not designed to do this, so it fatigues after only a few bars. If, on the down bow, I bow such that the frog is pointed towards the floor, and, on the up bow, I bow such that the tip is pointed towards the floor, the elbow joint does the work instead of the shoulder. The elbow, in addition, automatically goes forwards a little bit on the down bow and back a little bit on the up bow. By using the elbow much less mass is being moved, which requires much less energy, thus saving the shoulder."
There is a diagram that accompanies this statement that you might want to check out.
On a related note, Parisot said this:
"Most people get tired because they are trying to force the bow to jump, which causes their thumb, hand, arm, and shoulder to tense up, thus eliminating any hope of a good spiccato. In order to prevent this, one needs to relieve the thumb pressure and the bow will bounce by itself.
"A spiccato stroke is just a short piece of a relaxed legato stroke. The more you release the pressure, the more the bow will tend to bounce by itself, as long as you are playing at the right place on the bow, usually near the balance point. If you just remember that you are still playing legato, even in fast detaché notes, you won't get tired."
What do you all think about practicing four-octave arpeggios? I practice them -- and my teacher encourages it -- but she said once that she studied with someone who thought they were useless ... or not worth the time. What do you all think?
David Sanders replies: When I studied with Frank Miller, he insisted on 4-octave arpeggios, but only for the keys that started on the C string. He had me practice them fast, separate bows (as well as the usual ways), which was very helpful for coordination.
zambocello replies: I did 4-octave scales and arpeggios, using the Klengel book as a source. Like David Sanders, I only did 4 octaves starting on the C string; from the G string I did 3 octaves. (Who wants rosin on their fingertips when coming back on the cello?) I think high scales and arpeggios are valuable exercises. To control tone and intonation throughout the instrument's range is essential and, although the 4th octave is not used that much in "real life," when it is used it is often at a critical moment that can make or break the audience"s impression of the piece and the performance.
I think practicing with varied bowings and rhythms is essential. To always practice basic exercises in the same manner is nothing more than learning another "piece" which wo''t provide the intended general benefit to our techinique.
dennisw replies: Once you get past the 2nd octave on the A-string, the sound of the instrument begins to get squeaky. The higher you go, the squeakier it gets. Most of the solo literature is written below this level with the exception for special effects, which are almost (note: almost) never scalar. The really strong solo register is between the 1st & 2nd octaves. You'll note that the bulk of writing is in this register.
Another point is that the intervals are very small and the orientation of the left hand is difficult to keep perpendicular to the fingerboard the higher you go. I really don't see much of an argument for thumb position much past the 2nd octave on any string.
You can learn the intervals for special effects by practicing 4-octave arpeggios. A quick-search through my personal database yields the cadenza to the Boccherini concerto in Bb (mvt #3). Then there are a variety of harmonics in Popper etudes & short pieces. There is a 4-octave e-minor scale in the Elgar concerto (mvt #1). There are "false" harmonics in the Saint-Saens Concerto in A minor.
So, after all is said and done, I consider playing 4-octave scales to be pretty much a waste of time. The few times you have to actually pay attention to scalar passages way up there, I figure I can learn it when I need it. Arpeggios are another story.
Paul Tseng replies to dennisw: dennisw, surely you jest!
I would like to suggest that in many cases, the sound getting squeaky is not to be blamed on the loveliest of all stringed instruments (the cello). When you say "most of the solo literature" you may be right to some degree, but what do you do when you play Prokofiev op. 125? The very last measures are up there in the stratosphere. What about Elfentanz? I sure would hate for those notes to be played without having practiced in that register adequately prior to working on those pieces.
I'm going to break with the herd here and suggest practicing 5-octave scales! We shouldn't limit our playing to what is conventional. Cello technique and repertoire would never have evolved if the person who perfected thumb position took such an attitude.
Many of the works written for Rostropovich may not have come into exisitence if Slava simply stayed with what was convenient and conventional. Rather, he didn't let technical convention limit the imagination of the music. He let the technique rise to the occasion even if it meant creating "new" technique.
1. South Carolina Cello Choir
The Annual ASTA/NSOA South Carolina Cello Choir will be taking place September 28-29 at Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC. Each year, over 100 cellists gather together for a weekend of exciting cello activities geared to inspire cellists of all ages and levels. We are honored to have guest clinician, Prof. Joseph Schwab of the Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin, Germany with us for the weekend. He will be giving masterclases on Friday and directing both the Full Cello Choir and the Advanced Cello Choir on Saturday. The weekend activities will culminate with a Gala Concert at 5pm on Saturday. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
2. 2001 Hultgren Solo Cello Works Biennial
The finalists in the 2001 Hultgren Solo Cello Works Biennial are:
Born Dancin' for amplified cello & prerecorded drum machine by Eve Beglarian (New York, New York) Sul for cello by Paul Burnell (Heston, United Kingdom) drowningXnumbers for amplified solo cello by Dorothy Hindman (Birmingham, Alabama) Chambers of the Twilight: An April Homage for solo violoncello by Sydney Hodkinson (Ormond Beach, Florida) Partita for solo cello by Lewis Nielson (Oberlin, Ohio) Seeds of Passion for amplified cello by Andrián Pertout (Richmond, Australia) Night Scenes for solo cello by Ed Robertson (Montevallo, Alabama) This program of finalists will be performed three times by cellist, Craig Hultgren on Sunday, July 29th at 2:00 pm in the Steiner Auditorium of the Birmingham Museum of Art; Tuesday, September 11th at 7:30 pm in the Recital Hall of Georgia State University in Atlanta as part of the neoPhonia Series; and in September in the Recital Hall of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa date to be announced. All performances will be free and open to the public. The audience in attendance at the conclusion of each concert will vote to award the $1,000 Birmingham Prize, the $1,000 Atlanta Prize, and the $500 Tuscaloosa Prize.
Other works cited for quality by the Biennial review panel:
Collected Letters for unaccompanied cello by Allen Anderson (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Sargasso (83+) for solo cello by Mark Applebaum (Menlo Park, California)
Perpetual Hiss for solo cello by Paul Clem (Birmingham, Alabama)
fragmentos de la noche for solo cello by Orlando Jacinto García (Miami, Florida)
Blue Strife for violoncello & electronics by Shintaro Imai (Tokyo, Japan)
Night Spectres for cello solo by Benjamin Lees (Palm Springs, California)
Waltzes for Capone for cello & digital electronics by Matthew Marth (Olympia, Washington)
Imagining Le Verrier for solo cello by Damien Ricketson (Redfern, Australia)
The Ninth Wave for cello & computer generated tape by Robert Scott Thompson (Atlanta, Georgia)
3. L'Association Francaise du Violoncelle
L'Association Francaise du Violoncelle has been formed in France to promote French cellists and hopefully forge closer links between players across Europe. The idea for this organization came from Janos Starker, who noted that such groups do not enjoy the popularity in Europe that they do in the US. The association will support events such as concerts and conferences and share information through its magazine Le violoncelle and website (http://www.levioloncelle.com). With membership around 200, the society welcomes amateurs as well as professionals. Future plans include a tribute to Jacqueline du Pré and a television program on the cello. The society is also pressing for Paris to be the venue for the 2003 World Cello Congress.
4. Isserlis' Cadenzas
Steven Isserlis has released his personal cadenzas for the concerti of Haydn and Boccherini. They can be purchased from http://SheetMusicNow.com.
5. Soyer steps down ... all the way
David Soyer, cellist of the Guarneri Quartet for 37 years, has stepped down. Peter Wiley has taken his place as their permanent cellist.
6. Condolences to David Finckel
Edwin Finckel, father of Emerson Quartet cellist, David Finckel, and composer, jazz pianist, conductor, and music teacher died at the age of 83 in Madison, Wisconsin, last May. David Finckel's recordings of his father's selected works, on the ArtistLed label, include "Songs of Spring" and a suite for cello and piano "Of Human Kindness."
7. Prize Winners
For more information on how to apply, write to: email@example.com.
Kronberg Cello Festival
5th Cello Festival, Kronberg, Germany, Oct. 25-28, 2001. Bohorquez, Bylsma, Cho, Geringas, Gutman, Maisky, Meneses, Mork, Noras, Rostropovich, and the Cellissimo Ensemble. Concerts, workshops, exhibitions. http://www.kronbergacademy.de .
World Cello Congress IV
Plan ahead! World Cello Congress IV will take place May/June 2006 at Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland. Concerts, recitals, masterclasses, workshops, symposia, exhibits, receptions. http://www.towson.edu/worldmusiccongresses .
For those who attended World Cello Congress III, videos are now available at $30 (includes shipping):http://www.towson.edu/worldmusiccongresses/video.html .
Also promised is a "Gala Benefit Performance" in 2003 to raise funds for WCC4. "Many of the greatest stars of the music world will join forces to present a one-of-a-kind event not to be missed."
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