Viola Sonata No. 4, Op. 33, 2nd movement
In this masterclass, Professor Nathan Braude works with student Otoha Tabata on contrast and color in the second movement of Hindemith’s fourth sonata for solo viola. Since the form of this movement is a simple ABA lied form, Braude encourages Tabata to keep the listeners engaged by changing the way she plays repeated material, making a big contrast in the B section, and varying the colors in her sound more. He demonstrates how she can produce more colors by changing her bow movements, and also provides suggestions for dynamics and phrasing that make the pacing of the piece more clear. Braude also offers advice on choosing fingerings that will contribute to both ease of technique and musical innovation. Finally, he discusses the qualities of the music that make it quintessentially Hindemith, including the rhythms and unique harmonies, and shows the student how to highlight them.
Using more sound colors and how to produce them.
Pacing the dynamics and phrasing.
Having freedom while still maintaining rhythmic integrity.
Finding efficient fingerings.
Making musical decisions that bring out the harmonies.
After World War I, Paul Hindemith made several changes in his life; he turned away from writing for the violin, favoring the viola instead, and became disillusioned by Romanticism. His Sonata No. 4 for solo viola, composed in 1923, is representative of his new style of composition. It falls under the category of Gebrauchsmusik, or utility music, meaning that it was characterized by simplicity and was able to be played and used educationally by amateurs. However, despite this, the sonata still poses challenges to the performer. As a viola player himself, Hindemith was able to write masterfully for the instrument. The first movement, Äußerst lebhaft, is a virtuosic presentation of perpetual motion. Only three minutes long, the movement presses on without break, using varied rhythms and frequent double stops. The second movement, Lied, immediately changes mood. Though sparse and somewhat mournful, the movement is also full of grace and lyricism. The finale, Thema mit Variationen, is the longest movement, more than double the length of the prior two combined. It begins with the presentation of a stately theme; as the movement progresses, the variations become more complex. After a set of more expressive variations in the center of the movement, the music drives to an exciting finish.
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).
Paul Hindemith was a composer, conductor, musician, and professor born in Germany in 1895. After a formal education as a violinist, he pursued his studies in Frankfurt, learning music theory and composition. He supported himself by playing in orchestras, before being conscripted by the Imperial German army in 1917, near the end of WWI. He was sent to the front in the Flanders in 1918 and nearly died when his regiment was attacked by grenades.
The post-war period was a prolific one for the composer, and he was part of the new school of music, the “new objectivity style,” which can be described as neo-Bachian. The Third Reich period was a difficult one for Hindemith, as his music was officially banned in 1936. He had to leave his country and settled briefly in Turkey and in the US, where he moved permanently in the 40s. He, however, returned to Europe a decade later and settled in Switzerland to teach. After retiring from teaching in the mid-50s, he devoted his time to composing, recording, and conducting his own works. He died of pancreatitis in 1963 at the age of 68, leaving behind no children but a huge musical catalog, with famous pieces such as the Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber and Mathis der Maler.