Concerto for Viola
In this masterclass, Clive Greensmith demonstrates how to bring out the spirit and the different characters in the first movement of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. He discusses the repetitive nature of the main theme of the movement and how the performer must find ways to vary it in bow stroke, dynamics, and mood to keep the audience interested. He also shows the student places he can evoke certain imagery or emotion to provide more of a storytelling aspect to the work. Additionally, Greensmith provides several alternative bowings that serve the music more effectively and helps the student find a sound that is full and expressive but does not use unnecessary force. Finally, he stresses the importance of knowing what is happening in the piano or orchestra part and always maintaining a tempo, articulation, and quality of sound that aligns with it.
Varying the repeated material.
Keeping in time with the piano or orchestra.
Capturing the spirit of and characters in the music.
Finding the most effective bow strokes.
Conveying loud dynamics or passion without forcing the sound.
Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B Minor is ironically known as one of the greatest concertos written for the instrument, given that the composer did not believe the cello was a strong solo instrument. The piece was composed during Dvořák’s time in New York, though premiered in London in 1896, and is his last work for solo instrument and orchestra. The first movement, Allegro, begins with a quiet introduction of the first theme in the clarinets, which is then passed around, culminating in a majestic presentation by the full orchestra. The second theme is beautiful and expansive, first sung by the horn. The solo cello does not take over until several minutes into the piece. It begins with an improvisatory proclamation and cycles through the thematic material in different keys. The part is technically demanding, using double stops and octave jumps.
The second movement, a lyrical Adagio, ma non troppo, quotes one of Dvořák’s own songs, “Lasst mich allein,” a favorite of his previous love interest turned sister-in-law who had recently passed. The movement begins slowly, but grows in intensity, and trades melodic lines between the soloist and wind instruments. The last movement, Finale: Allegro moderato — Andante — Allegro vivo, is a lively, rhythmic rondo. The cello engages in a nostalgic slow section toward the end that recalls material from the earlier movements before a brief, explosive conclusion.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this viola masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Nathan Braude’s feedback and comments.
In September 2016, Nathan became the new principal violist of the Gurzenich Orchester, Cologne.
Belgian-Israeli violist Nathan Braude has performed in many of the world's most prestigious concert venues including the Wigmore Hall in London, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, Amsterdam Concertgebouw and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
Nathan Braude has also appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, including the Brussels Philharmonic, Orchestre National de Lille, Orchestra della Svizzera italiana, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Symfonieorkest Vlaanderen, Limburgs Symfonie Orkest and Solistes Européens Luxembourg. In September 2016, Nathan became the new principal violist at the Gurzenich Orchester, Koln.
Festival appearances include Progretto Martha Argerich in Lugano, Ravinia Festival in Chicago and Festival de Radio France in Montpellier. Since 2010 Nathan regularly performs in duo recitals together with his wife Polina Leschenko.
His début recording for the Fuga Libera label with the complete works for viola, by the Belgian composer Joseph Jongen, has been released to great critical acclaim. Other recordings include the Dvorak piano quartet op.87 released on EMI Classics as part of the Martha Argerich and Friends: Live from the Lugano Festival 2012 series, and Brahms horn trio (viola version) for the Warner Classic label.
Nathan Braude plays a viola by Pietro Giovanni Mantegazza (Milano, 1772).
Hungarian composer Béla Bartók was born on March 25th 1881 and is considered one of the most famous Hungarian musician and composer along with Franz Liszt. Bartók was interested in music early on, and his parents quickly recognized it. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Budapest and composed his first major work in 1903. His early works were influenced by Richard Strauss and Johannes Brahms; large-scale orchestral music that was well-received. Soon after, he traveled extensively in Europe to study local folk music. Around this time, he was married to his first wife and had a son, born in 1910.
Eventually, the composer and his second wife (his first marriage ended in divorce) emigrated to the USA due to the Nazi party coming into power and the advent of the Second World War. In America, Bartók continued to work, both composing and collecting traditional music from his native region. When he fell ill in 1940, he wrote his most notable work The Concerto for Orchestra, and died five years later in New York City from leukemia, at age 64.
He left behind a great legacy of modern music influenced by both classical and folk themes, and that continues to fascinate audiences to this day thanks to a mixture of intellectualism and lyricism.