Symphonie Espagnole, 1st movement
Symphonie Espagnole, 1st movement
In this masterclass, professor Miriam Fried and student Edith Cnockaert work on building a powerful sound, playing with intention and direction, as well as other aspects required in mastering this piece.
Produced by the Saline royale Academy
In this masterclass, Miriam Fried works with student Edith Cnockaert to find the right sound and expression in Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. She discusses the difference between “loud” and “powerful,” and discusses various techniques that can be used to produce a sound that projects but do not exceed the limitations of the violin. She encourages the student to relinquish control of the right arm to allow for more flexibility of the bow and demonstrates how varying the bow speed and motion helps create more direction in the music. She advises that the performer must always play with intention and make calculated musical decisions all the way down to the connection between each note, yet must also enjoy the music-making process and play with tension-free virtuosity and ease.
Producing a great sound within the limits of the instrument.
Bow speed, motion, and how the bow to string contact.
Connection between the notes.
Thinking in larger gestures rather than individual notes.
Playing with ease to achieve true virtuosity in technical passages.
Despite its name, Symphonie Espagnole, one of Edouard Lalo's best-known works, is actually a violin concerto. Composed in 1874, it coincides with several Spanish-influenced works by French composers, including Bizet's Carmen. It was written for and premiered by renowned Spanish violinist Pablo de Sarasate and incorporates many Spanish musical elements. The first movement, Allegro non troppo, opens with a brief yet dramatic orchestral introduction, before the violinist takes over with solo material. The material varies between a festive theme with 3+2 rhythms and a more lyrical melody. The second movement, Scherzando, evokes guitar music through a pizzicato accompaniment. Though primarily based on an energetic seguidilla dance rhythm, there is also a calmer middle section. The third movement, Intermezzo, was often omitted from early performances. It is a bit heavier in character, again utilizing 3+2 rhythms and flamenco melodies. In the fourth movement, Andante, the orchestra establishes a dark and stormy mood before introducing the more melancholic violin melody. The movement ends with the violin in its highest register in D major, preparing for the finale. The piece concludes with a lively Iberian-inspired Rondo that requires dazzling virtuosity.
The violin or the bow have no intention. They have no opinion, no intention, nothing. You are responsible for all of it.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Miriam Fried’s feedback and comments.
Professor of violin at New England Conservatory in Boston.
Miriam Fried has played with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Europe and has been a frequent guest with the principal orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Vienna Symphony.
In recent seasons, Ms. Fried’s schedule has included orchestral engagements with such prestigious ensembles as the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Czech Philharmonic, and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. In 1993, she premiered a violin concerto written for her by Donald Erb with the Grand Rapids Symphony, and recorded the work for Koss. Ms. Fried’s highly praised New York recitals of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin were the culmination of three years of international performances.
She was the first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet for ten years and collaborates regularly with her son, pianist Jonathan Biss. Currently, Miriam Fried is a professor at New England Conservatory and is invited to give masterclasses throughout the world. Since 1994 she has been program Director of the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians.
Édouard Lalo was born in Lille, France in 1823, and became a teacher and violinist in Paris after studying at the Conservatoire de Paris. He married singer Julie Besnier de Maligny in 1865 and started to compose operas. His most famous one was originally not well-received and heavily criticized. Following this episode in his career, he focused all his attention on the more fashionable chamber music.
The Symphonie Espagnole is his most famous oeuvre and is still part of the violin repertoire. It is a lively and bright piece that requires a lot of energy.
The composer had a son with wife Julie, who later became a music critic. Éduard Lalo would eventually receive the French Légion d’Honneur in 1873. He died in Paris at age 69 and left many unfinished works behind, as well as a great music legacy for violin and orchestra.
Photo credit: Pierre Petit