2019 Youth Orchestra String Excerpts Notes

VIOLIN EXCERPT 1

Below are two recording samples of Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 “Italian” from YouTube. Recording 1 is a performance by the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony. The excerpt in question is heard right at the beginning of the Symphony, but I encourage you to listen through the entire work, it is a masterpiece.

Recording 2 is a tutorial video done by a member of the Berlin Phil first violin section. This demonstration was made for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, who used this excerpt for their audition process. In any event, it is all in German but subtitles are available in case you don’t speak the language. He demonstrates a bit and otherwise gives good musical and technical pointers as to how to approach the excerpt.

Note: the bowings printed in the part are suggestions only, as is the exact tempo. Feel free to make adjustments as needed to fit your own approach.

Recording 1

London Symphony Orchestra – Claudio Abbado

https://youtu.be/4pO7_IxbDsU

 

Recording 2

Berlin Philharmonic masterclass

https://youtu.be/uzHZ1a9MnzI

 

VIOLIN EXCERPT 2

You’ll notice Recording 1 is much faster than Recording 2. I have some preference for this faster and more agitated interpretation. That said, Recording 1 does not have the advantage of allowing you to follow along with the score, which is embedded within the video of Recording 2.

Both are excellent performances and worthy of study and emulation. Regardless of which one you prefer (either of these two or any other you can find), the important thing is communicating to the listener your constant sense of the underlying rhythmic pulse, which are the repeating triplets in the horns/woodwinds. If you are always subdividing in your mind, and ‘hearing’ triplets, than no matter what tempo choices you make, or how dramatically or subtly you interpret a printed ritenuto, or a poco piu mosso, or an animando, it will always make rhythmic sense and be understandable by the listener. For any excerpt, but especially an excerpt like this, I recommend you pick out a few recordings that you like and try to practice playing along with a great orchestra to internalize your sense of how to pace it in a natural way.

Note: the printed bowings are optional. You are welcomed to use them, or find your own according to your comfort. Also, whenever double stops are printed, always play the top line only.

Recording 1

Tchaikovsky 5, mvt 2

Leningrad Philharmonic – Mravinsky

Excerpt begins at 18:15

https://youtu.be/DfibXOGFQSo

 

Recording 2

Tchaikovsky 5, mvt

New York Philharmonic – Leonard Bernstein

https://youtu.be/nyLPcI1woF8

Excerpt begins at 5:30

VIOLA EXCERPT 1

Auditionees will find both of the following recordings useful.

Recording 1 is a full performance with the Radio Orchestra of France conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. Of course I encourage you to listen to the entire piece a few times to get a sense of what a marvelous composition it is. However the excerpt begins at 2:30.

Recording 2 is from the ‘Orchestra excerpts for viola’ album that Robert Vernon, the retired Principal Viola of the Cleveland Orchestra, made back in the 1990s. Mr. Vernon is one of the greatest living teachers of viola in America and his many years playing in one of the world’s great orchestras give him great insight into how to perform this excerpt. The recording includes notes and suggestions by him at the top, followed by a partial performance of the required excerpt. You’ll notice he skips the last two lines in his version, however you are expected to perform all the way until the end of the excerpt.

Note: The printed bowings are suggestions only. If you can find a way that is more comfortable for you, you are welcomed to make any changes you like.

Recording 1

Radio Orchestra of France – Myung-Whun Chung

https://youtu.be/0nJUSHqSaV8

 

Recording 2

Hector Berlioz

Roman Carnival Overture

Robert Vernon, Principal Viola Cleveland Orchestra (retired)

https://youtu.be/to24DfUtvSM

 

VIOLA EXCERPT 2

Again, both recordings are useful for preparation. The first is a full performance by the great Seiji Ozawa who was for many years the Music Director of the Boston Symphony. The other is from Robert Vernon’s orchestra excerpts album. Mr. Vernon plays two excerpts from this Mozart Symphony, though obviously for this audition you are only responsible for the second that he plays (the first is from another movement). Again bowings, and to some extent tempo, are up to you. The metronome marking and bowings are merely suggestions. Choose what works for you and will give the best impression to the listener.

Recording 1

Mozart Symphony 35 ‘Haffner

Mito Chamber Orchestra -Seiji Ozawa

https://youtu.be/Vb4w6KCoVXM

(Excerpt begins at 20:10)

 

Recording 2

Mozart Symphony 35 ‘Haffner’

Robert Vernon, Principal Viola Cleveland Orchestra (retired)

https://youtu.be/fojEaIttLss

(Excerpt begins at 3:29)

CELLO EXCERPT 1

This is a passage from the first movement of Brahms’ 3rd Symphony.  The time signature is 6/4, though as you can tell from the tempo indication, the passage is conducted in 2 (so each beat is a dotted half note).  Much of this music is ‘off’ the beat, in others words, the downbeats that the listener hears are not the actual downbeats, which is part of what is so inventive about this passage, and about Brahms’s music in general.  In any event, because it is so rhythmically strange, before beginning I suggest you go to Rehearsal E and sing through the tune a few times with the metronome on.  This is a good way to internalize the pace of the phrase before starting.

The tempo and bowing are suggestions only.  The following recording will be helpful for reference. It needn’t be copied exactly, though it is a great performance by a great orchestra.  Just choose bowings and a tempo that work for you within the spirit of the music.

Recording

New York Philharmonic

Alan Gilbert, conductor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhB_umc9F84

(Excerpt  is 6:59  – 8:01)

 

CELLO EXCERPT 2

This except is from the final movement of Symphony No. 3 “Organ” by Camille Saint-Saëns.  The following video may be of use in preparation, though it needn’t be copied exactly.  Choose bowings and a tempo that work for you and are consistent with the performance tradition of this movement.  The indicated markings are just suggestions, as is this performance example.

Recording

Orchestra de Paris

Paavo Jarvi, conductor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWCZq33BrOo

(excerpt is 26:00 – 26:20)

STRING BASS EXCERPT 1

This excerpt is from Richard Strauss’ early tone poem Don Juan. Some of you may already be familiar with the piece. If not I suggest giving it a listen from beginning to end.  Not only is it one of the great symphonic works of the late romantic period, it is also filled with difficult music and is used as an excerpt frequently for orchestral auditions on many instruments. The example we’ve asked you to prepare is from the first half of the work.  It is conducted in 2, so each beat is a half note. The tempo indication is approximate and there are no printed bowings, so you will need to discover for yourself and with your teacher what will work best for you. The following youtube video demonstrates an excellent performance of the piece.  I encourage you to use it, or any others, for reference. It has been recorded, at one point or another, by most of the world’s great orchestras, so you should not have any trouble finding examples to refer to.

Recording

Berlin Philharmonic

James Levine, conductor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE8MKEyEEnQ

(excerpt is 5:30 –  6:12)

 

STRING BASS EXCERPT 2

This except is from the final movement of Symphony No. 3 “Organ” by Camille Saint-Saëns.  The following video may be of use in preparation, though it needn’t be copied exactly.  Choose bowings and a tempo that work for you and are consistent with the performance tradition of this movement.  The indicated markings are just suggestions, as is this performance example.

Recording

Orchestra de Paris

Paavo Jarvi, conductor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWCZq33BrOo

(excerpt is 26:00 – 26:20)

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