Cello Concerto, Op. 85, 3rd and 4th movement

Cello Concerto, Op. 85, 3rd and 4th movement

Cello Concerto, Op. 85, 3rd and 4th movement

Edward Elgar

Frans Helmerson's masterclass

Produced by the Saline royale Academy English Subtitles are available in English, Japanese, Korean Music sheet annotated by  Frans  Helmerson  is available 40 min Cello

Frans Helmerson and Jean Baptiste Maizières examine composer Edward Elgar's writing style and personality in this cello masterclass.

Produced by the Saline royale Academy

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The masterclass

About this masterclass 

In this masterclass, Professor Frans Helmerson works with student Jean Baptiste Maizières to find the right character and personality in Elgar’s Cello Concerto. He discusses the unique qualities in Elgar’s compositional style and how they differ from those of other composers. He also encourages the student to find a tempo and character that matches the music; generally, the mood is passionate yet happy and energetic, so the performer must be careful not to let the music become too labored and serious. Helmerson also goes over a number of more technical aspects such as bow grip, right arm movement, vibrato, and dynamics, which help the student start to sound more expressive. 

What we learn in this masterclass 

  1. Choosing the right tempi.

  2. Capturing the elements that are specific to Elgar’s writing style and personality.

  3. Finding the right character.

  4. Relaxing grip in fingers and movement in the elbow.

  5. Controlling the vibrato speed and amplitude.

Cello Concerto, Op. 85 by Edward Elgar

Elgar composed his Cello Concerto in E minor in the summer of 1919, after a long period of inactivity. It was his last major composition. The premiere was unsuccessful due to a lack of rehearsal time, and the piece did not achieve its current level of widespread acclaim until Jacqueline du Pré recorded it in the 1960s. In this concerto, Elgar moved away from his previous elaborate romanticism and displayed a simpler yet refined expression. Though written in four movements, the piece is divided into halves, as the first and last two movements are performed without pause. The first movement, Adagio – Moderato, is in ternary form and opens with a cello recitative. The violas present the main theme, a lyrical but melancholic melody in 9/8 eventually taken over and developed by the solo cello and full orchestra. The second movement, Lento – Allegro molto, begins with a cadenza-like section, during which the cello presents the thematic material for the movement, as well as pizzicato chords strummed like a guitar, before the music develops into a quick scherzo.

The third movement, Adagio, presents a hauntingly beautiful theme that dominates from beginning to end, with the orchestra reduced to feature the solo cello. The piece concludes with Allegro – Moderato – Allegro, ma non-troppo – Poco più lento – Adagio. The movement cycles through various keys and themes and contains an expressive cadenza, ending with a recollection of material from earlier in the piece, before emphatic final chords. 

  • Date:22 October 2021
  • Producer: Produced by the Saline royale Academy
  • Duration:40 min
  • Spoken language:English
  • Subtitle languages: English, Japanese, Korean

Sheet music

lAim 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 Frans Helmerson’s feedback and comments.

Sheet music cello concerto, op. 85, 3rd and 4th movement

Frans Helmerson

Frans  Helmerson

In 1971 he won one of the most famous music prizes for cellists, the Cassado Competition in Florence.

Born in 1945 in Sweden, Frans Helmerson began playing the cello at the age of eight. After studying in Sweden, Rome, and London under the tutelage of Guido Vecchi, Giuseppe Selmi, William Pleeth, and later from Mstislav Rostropovich.

His solo career began in Stockholm, Sweden. Since the early days of his career, he has performed with some of the most esteemed orchestras across the five continents, performing with leading conductors of our time - Seiji Ozawa, Colin Davies, Neeme Järvi, Evgeni Svetlanov, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Herbert Blomstedt, Sergiu Comissiona, Rafal Frübeck de Burgos, and Kurt Sanderling.

His passion for chamber music has led him to numerous festivals, including the International Umeea-Korsholrn Festival in northern Sweden and Finland. He has performed in Verbier, Prades, Naantali, Kuhmo, and Ravinia. Presently, Helmerson works regularly as a conductor with Scandinavian orchestras.

As an educator, he teaches at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, where he is based, and at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid. He taught at the Villecroze Music Academy in 2012, 2014, and 2020.


Edward  Elgar

Edward Elgar was born in Lower Broadheath, England in 1857, and was a composer, musician and conductor. He and his siblings received a musical education through the local church and Elgar started to take piano and violin lessons at the age of 8. He also received a formal education. Because his father was selling musical instruments and tuning pianos at prestigious local houses, he took his son with him, giving him the opportunity to play. Later, Elgar wished to enter the Leipzig Conservatory, but his family could not afford it.  

After graduating from school, he worked as a clerk in an office and started to perform in front of an audience. Many said that young Elgar could pursue a career as a solo violinist, but Elgar preferred to work as a conductor, coaching musicians, writing arrangements and so on. Despite his timidness, Elgar did well in Worcester’s social circles and was able, through friends and acquaintances, to attend concerts and festivals. In the early 1880s, he visited Paris and Leipzig, and in 1883, he became engaged to a young woman named Helen. This engagement would unfortunately not last. It is often noted that Elgar had a very romantic, almost naïve, vision of love and each new woman he was in love with took a lot of space in his life. One of them was Alice Stuart Wortley, who married him despite her family disapproving, and became his number one supporter and critic. Elgar’s career was not taking off and many years passed during which he became increasingly desperate to finally “make it.” His reputation as a composer and conductor was well-established, but he was not by any means famous or rich.  

In 1899, at age 42, things radically changed for him when he produced his Enigma Variations in London. The concert was such an astonishing success that he became famous overnight, being called the “successor of recently-deceased Sir Arthur Sullivan”. Few British composers enjoyed a celebrity status, as most European composers were French, German, Austrian etc. During the First World War, Elgar was regarded as a patriot, writing war pieces. In the 1920s, he left the city due to his declining health, and faced tragedy after the sudden loss of his wife, Alice. He eventually passed from cancer at the age of 76. His musical legacy consists of various masterpieces for strings, with essential pieces like his Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85; Enigma Variations, Op. 36 and the most famous Pomp and Circumstance Marches. 

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