Arpeggione Sonata, 2nd and 3rd movement
In this masterclass, Yi-Bing Chu works with student Tianqi Long on staying present and actively listening while playing the second and third movements of Schubert’s Arpeggione Sonata. In the second movement, Chu discusses being “distracted” by the environment. Instead of focusing on playing only the correct notes and rhythms, the performer should be aware of the piano, the instructor, the audience, and his own playing.
Additionally, he must sing the sound according to the harmony, rather than only paying attention to the harmonic line. Though all performers have a certain amount of artistic license, even soloists must play within the confines of the harmony and style. Moreover, the pair talk about intonation and sound color.
In the third movement, Chu helps the student find a more dance-like spirit and presence of sound. Even though the dynamic is not loud, the quality must always be high.
Listening to and analyzing your own playing, as well as the harmony.
Staying present in the atmosphere as a performer.
Finding the intonation and color of notes.
To play not only as a soloist, but also as part of a larger ensemble.
Having a quality of sound that has presence, regardless of its volume.
Schubert’s Sonata in A Minor for Arpeggione and Piano is the only major piece composed for arpeggione, a bowed instrument with six strings. Today, the piece is adapted most commonly for cello, viola, and bass, though many other transcriptions exist. Though the piece was composed in 1824, due to the eventual retirement of the arpeggione, it was not revisited until 1871. The first movement, Allegro moderato, focuses on the development of two themes. The first is a gentle melody somewhat tinged with nostalgia, while the second is more dance-like and cheerful, never delving too far into darkness despite the minor key. The second movement, Adagio, is quite short and is akin to a lied in its beauty and simplicity. It leads into the final movement, Allegretto, a pastoral rondo that refrains from excessive speed. The piece is known for its difficulty, as it requires a great deal of agility to clearly play the arpeggiation and chords.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this cello masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Yi-Bing Chu’s feedback and comments.
Winner of the International Music Performance Competition in Geneva in 1986
Born into a family of musicians, Yi-Bing Chu began to learn the cello at the age of 8 with his father, who was professor at the Central Conservatory of Music (Beijing, China). At an early age he began to perform, and at 10, he recorded his first disc. At that time, the Cultural Revolution in China was still underway and classical music was banned. Chu eventually enrolled in a class taught by celebrated cellist, Maurice Gendron, at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris. He graduated in 1987 with a Premier Prix. Furthermore, he won First Prize at the Concours international d’exécution de musique in Geneva in 1986.
In 1989, Chu became principal cellist at the Basel Symphony Orchestra, Switzerland, and stayed there until 2004. From 2004 to 2018, he was appointed cello professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. There, he passionately contributed to the spread and influence of chamber music throughout China. With this, Chu founded the China Philharmonic Cellists, made up of his cellist students. With them, he has given hundreds of concerts across the country.
He has performed for prominent figures, such as the presidents of China, France and the United States. Chu is keen on spreading classical music to as many people as possible, by giving concerts in universities, hospitals, factories and jails for millions of Chinese people who have little access to this genre. He also founded the SuperCello Festival, Beijing, and produced three recordings with his cellist students.
Franz Schubert was born in Vienna, Austria in 1797 and displayed a natural musical talent at an early age. Growing up in a musical family, Schubert’s own brother would be his first music teacher. At 7-years-old, the young boy was sent to audition with Antonio Salieri to begin his formal education. After a successful meeting, Schubert was recruited to sing mezzo-soprano in a small choir for the services in the imperial Hofkapelle. Around this time, he learned how to play the violin, counterpoint, figured bass, singing, and organ lessons by his father.
His education would continue at the Royal City College, where he would remain for the following five years. During these early years of his life, Schubert already began to compose is first masterpieces. By adolescence, his understanding of composition deepened, and the now prolific composer wrote 150 songs by eighteen-years-old. Many of the lieder he wrote during this time are still widely celebrated for their mastery today. They include, An die musik, Nacht und Träume, Der Erlkönig, Ich wollt, and more.
Despite the composer’s genius and the fact that he managed to publish some of his works during his lifetime, Schubert was economically unstable, which worsened after 1824 after showing early symptoms of syphilis that would eventually take his life in 1828.
Franz Schubert’s work embodies two periods of classical music: Viennese classical and early Romanticism. His pieces are emotional and poetic in nature, but nevertheless fit a classical mold. Schubert enjoyed experimenting with expression, modulation and was very influential in the genre of the Lied.