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Marc Coppey, Shostakovich, Concerto No.1 in E-flat major

Sequence published on 12/2/21
Composer : Dmitri Shostakovich
Year of composition : 1959
Artistic period : 20th century
Musical category : Concerto
Academy : Academy Nov. 1 - Nov. 8, 2021
Master(s) : Marc Coppey
Student : Catherine Cotter
Instrument(s) played :

"It's never such a good feeling to have to hurry with the left. So usually when we have to hurry, that means we didn't prepare early enough." Marc Coppey

About the Violoncelle class of Dmitri Shostakovich work on the Concerto_No.1_in_E-flat_major op.107

Master class de Violoncelle, Dmitri Shostakovich | Concerto_No.1_en_Mib_majeur

After listening to the student play the first movement of the first Dimitri Shostakovich Concerto, Marc Coppey highlights two things: first, that it is much better than the previous time he heard it by the same student; on the other hand, he thinks it could be more consistent about the tempo: "in that movement, the feeling of tempo change is not good".
Regarding the sound, the master says that he should seek projection in the sound, more definition, and, before this, he warns that he sometimes hears in the student that there is a lot of attack but not so much sound behind, for which he suggests using more bow.

Later, Marc Coppey notices that the student is articulating little with his left hand, so he makes some suggestions with the position of the arm, since “You're a bit light and you need more solidity”. In addition, the master also asks him to work more on anticipation, since in this way “the sounds speaks more”.
“Sometimes it's not so clear, and that also makes you rush”, says Marc Coppey, and works together with the student on the coordination between left and right hand, in the thumb position: “you are a little bit late with your left hand. Yes, OK. And then that stresses you are because you have to hurry. It's never such a good feeling to have to hurry with the left. So usually when we have to hurry, that means we didn't prepare early enough”. It is a fantastic class, on a demanding and captivating work for the cello.

What we learn in this Violoncelle Master class

-The feeling of tempo change is not good
-A lot of the power, the energy and the strength of that music, is related to this rhythmical solidity
-Importance of projecting sound, articulation, and anticipation
- Usually, when there is a rush, that means there are problems in the preparation
-Importance of flexibility in the left hand
-One of the main characteristic of Sonata form is the opposition of character between the two themes
-Importance of feeling the relation between the bow speed, the pressure you put on the swing and the contact point
-As Casals said, “use bow because you need it, not because you have bow”

About Dmitri Shostakovich work

Shostakovich was well aware that Rostropovich wanted a solo work, and in 1959 he announced that “My next work will be a Cello Concerto. The first movement, an allegretto in the style of a jocular march, is already complete. There will probably be three movements in all. I would find it difficult to say anything concrete about its content: such questions, despite their apparent naturalness and simplicity, always cause me problems. After all, it often happens that in the course of writing a work the form, the means of expression and even the genre can change substantially. I can only say that this concerto was first conceived quite a long time ago.” The score was finished in July, and Shostakovich mailed the score to Rostropovich, who memorized the solo part in just four days, in time to play it for the composer. Rostropovich played the first performance in Leningrad, on October 4, 1959, and continues to perform it until retirement in 2006. The work’s multitude of runs and double stops in difficult “thumb” positions, stopped and natural harmonics, and left hand pizzicato amply demonstrate the composer’s confidence in the abilities of the legendary Mstislav Rostropovich, for whom the work was written. Despite the pyrotechnics, the work is simple both in form and in the use of either folk-like material or permutations on Shostakovich’s musical signature DSCH (D, E-flat, C, B-natural). The third movement is an extended cadenza which creates a bridge from the meditative second movement to the boisterous finale. Throughout the work, a solo horn plays the part of the soloist’s alter ego, often engaging in extended dialogues while the orchestra rests. Few concertos in the history of the form make such a powerful utterance.
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