Flute Sonata in E Minor, 1st movement
In this masterclass, Silvia Careddu works with student Yunmo Zhang to understand the style and phrasing in the first two movements of J.S. Bach’s Sonata in e minor. She stresses the importance of studying the full score with special attention to the bass line, which gives the performers information on when to change their tone color or dynamics. She also emphasizes that the flutist must use the correct airspeed to create a presence in the sound that balances with the piano, without losing the style. In the first movement, Careddu helps Zhang discover where to take time for the phrases and how to create long musical lines. In the second movement, she warns against rushing the tempo. She also helps him decide when the music should feel vertical and when it can be more lyrical, as well as how to produce an articulation that matches the character of the piece.
Using the bass line (or left hand of piano) to determine the phrasing.
Playing longer phrases and musical lines.
How to have more presence in the sound without increasing vibrato.
When to take time for phrasing and intervals.
Using rhythm and articulation to achieve the right character.
Bach most likely wrote his Flute Sonata in E minor during his stint in Cöthen from 1717-23, though it is also possible that he wrote it shortly after moving to Leipzig, as it was performed in coffeehouse concert series there. The sonata was written for the traverso flute, a one-keyed instrument quickly replacing the recorder due to its more advanced capabilities, and basso continuo, commonly performed by harpsichord and a bass instrument such as cello, viola da gamba, or bassoon.
The piece adheres to a slow-fast-slow-fast four-movement structure. The first movement, Adagio ma non tanto, presents a lilting melody through coupled sixteenth notes, constantly moving forward despite its tempo marking. The second movement, Allegro, is a virtuosic moment for the flute, though difficult due to scarce breathing opportunities. The third movement, Andante, allows the beautiful flute melody to float over a simple eighth-note accompaniment. In the final movement, Allegro, the basso continuo and the flute interact through canonic counterpoint, ending in an emphatic statement of the thematic material.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this flute masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Silvia Careddu’s feedback and comments.
First Prize and the Audience prize at the 56th Concours International de Musique de Genève.
Silvia Careddu was born in Cagliari, Italy, and studied at the Conservatoire de Musique et de Danse de Paris, where she graduated with distinctions. Her career launched after she won the First Prize and the Audience Prize at the 56th Concours International de Genève. Following the award, Lorin Maazel invited Careddu to be the solo flute of his newly founded Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini. She later joined the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the Wiener Symphoniker and the Wiener Philharmoniker-Wiener Staatsoper, as principal flute.
In 2012, she became artistic partner of the Kammerakademie Potsdam, winner of the Echo-Preis 2015 for the category Best German Orchestra. As guest principal flute, Silvia plays with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, and the Sinfonia Grange au Lac. Silvia is a founding member of the Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, a chamber music group made up of virtuoso instrumentalists.
She is highly demanded as a soloist and chamber musician, and has made an appearance at many esteemed music festivals, like the Schleswig-Holstein, the Festival des Arcs, the Bürgenstock Festival, the Australian National Academy for Music, and many more.
Moreover, Careddu is a professor at the Conservatoire – Académie Supérieure de Strasbourg HEAR, at the Hochschule für Musik ‘Hanns Eisler’ in Berlin, at the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, and at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole based in Italy. She regularly gives masterclasses in Europe and Asia, and has served as juror for the Concours de Genève, the Nicolet International Flute Competition, the Premio Claudio Abbado, the Concours Maxence Larrieu, the Crussell International Competition, and the Prague Spring International Music Competition.
Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in music history. His incredible creative power, technical mastery, and intellect have made a lasting impression not only on classical music but also on many different modern music genres we know today.
Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, Bach was a member of a very well-known family of musicians. At 18-years-old, he began working in Arnstadt where he accompanied hymns at church. His professional career as a musician would follow in Weimar, where he resided from 1708 to 1717. Here, Bach would deepen his theoretical study of composition and write most of his organ works. Moreover, he composed preludes and fugues that would be part of his collection The Well-Tempered Clavier. After building a considerable reputation in Weimar, Bach moved to Köthen to take a new role as Chapel Master. Writing less religious songs and putting more of a focus on chamber music, his compositions from this time would bring Baroque instrumental music to its pinnacle.
From 1723 until his death in 1750, Bach worked in Leipzig. First, as Thomaskantor at the Thomasschule and later as a private tutor and director of the Collegium Musicum. During this time, Bach worked on creating a repertoire of cantatas for church and revised many of his previous compositions. From 1726 onward, his keyboard works were published. His death in 1750 came to mark the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of Classicism. For many years after his passing, Johann Sebastian Bach’s works were buried with him until they resurfaced many years later and celebrated for their musical ingenuity.