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Marc Coppey, Walton, Cello concerto

Sequence published on 12/2/21
Composer : William Walton
Year of composition : 1957
Artistic period : 20th century
Musical category : Concerto
Academy : Academy Nov. 1 - Nov. 8, 2021
Master(s) : Marc Coppey
Student : Eleonore Rannou
Date of recording : 10/22/20
Instrument(s) played :

"It's a kind of expressionist concerto for the cello, not just expressive, but expressionist." Marc Coppey

About Marc Coppey's Cello class on the Concerto

Cello Master class by Marc Coppey | Walton, Concerto

"This is an intense class in which the master is concerned, from the beginning, that the student doesn't understand what the character of the work is. They share opinions on the “strange” theme that
comes up all the time, in an omnipresent way, that it is constantly going away and returning.
One of the main characteristics of the concert is that, according to the master, it's an expressionist concert, not just an expressive one. Beyond ending in C Major, all this harmonic ambiguity and lyricism is fed by varied and expressive intervals; some strange, some more
consonant. "

"Vibrato stands out in its essentially expressive dimension, and the master gives some very clear indications in this regard: “If you vibrate towards the front, you make the note go up. Feel the vibrato towards the head of the instrument, not towards the bridge”, “the vibrato is, as the English say, an embellishment on the harmonization of the ornaments, it's an ornamentation, it's a way to embellish the sound. But that's no way to distort it”, “you can change both the amplitude and the speed of the vibrato”.
Then, the master highlights the importance of the right arm and the bow, and how he is able to decide the type of sound, taking into account the point of contact, speed, force, and so on. He also
insists on taking care of the rhythmic continuity and constantly takes into account the notion of direction in the music. "

What we learn in this Cello Master class

- If one vibrates towards the front, he makes the note go up.
- The first and most important thing is that the piece starts with a non-vibrated sound.
- There's one simple thing about a change of string: it's easier to anticipate.
- What is specific in this type of music is a lot of lengths
- Pulling the bow doesn't have to be strong.
- By writing dashes on the notes, the composer gives the notes a length
- The end is difficult because it's a single bow.

About William Walton's work

"William Walton, Cello Concerto (1957) is the third and last of the composer's concertos for string instruments. It was written between February and October 1956, commissioned by and dedicated to the cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, the soloist at the premiere in 1957. This is remarked at the beginning of the class."
"Walton had been regarded as an avant-garde in his youth, but by 1957, when he was in his mid-fifties, he was seen as a composer in the romantic tradition, and some thought him old-fashioned by comparison with his younger English contemporary Benjamin Britten. The master links it to the expressive harmonic elements of Schonberg's Second Viennese School: this intense lyricism, very strong and, in his opinion, should have consequences on the way of playing, in terms of vibrato, support, sonority, and expressiveness of intervals. The concerto, commissioned by Piatigorsky, followed the conventional concerto form to the extent of having three contrasting movements. As with his earlier Violin Concerto, Walton worked in close collaboration with the soloist while composing the work. The concerto is in three movements but does not follow the conventional concerto form of a brisk opening movement followed by a slow movement: the three movements are Moderato, Allegro appassionato, and Tema ed improvvisazioni."
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