movements

The Britten Cello Suites (Part 2): An Interview with Steven Doane — by Aron Zelkowicz

My first live encounter with a Britten suite was an in-your-face experience.  Steven Doane played the First Suite, Op. 72 as a “dry run” for a group of students as we crammed into an Eastman studio with barely enough floor space to not get poked with an upbow.  Mr. Doane’s association with the piece has only grown, leading to a brand new recording of the complete suites to be released this year.  I asked Mr. Doane about his thoughts and experiences playing this demanding work over the years. Do you remember the occasion of learning the Britten First Suite for the first time? It’s a piece that I discovered late - I was in my mid thirties when I started working on it, and it was revelatory.  It was an [...]

The Britten Cello Suites (Part 1) — by Aron Zelkowicz

Cellists have as much reason as anyone to celebrate the upcoming Benjamin Britten centenary, if not more so.  The five major cello works he wrote for Mstislav Rostropovich – the sonata, the Symphony Concerto, and the three solo suites – have been taken up in short order as standard repertoire.  By my unofficial count there are twenty recordings of the complete cello suites on the market, not to mention sixteen “incomplete” cycles of one or two suites here and there.  So it can be easy to forget that this music hasn’t been around for very long.  Those of us of a certain age can remember relics like the individually published suites, each score with its distinctly colored cover.  Or Rostropovich’s classic 1970 LP titled, rather definitively, “Britten: The Suites for [...]

Practice Time: Inspiring and Productive? — by Natasha Brofsky

As musicians, a life spent practicing our instruments means that we need to be able to teach and inspire ourselves. The art of practicing well is essential in order to develop our own musical voice. The musical idea is everything. Awaken your musical imagination!! Is the phrase you are practicing lyrical or dancelike? Is it passionate? Melancholy? Stormy? Tender? Does a particular passage inspire a scene in your mind? What kind of a story does it tell? How do you want the audience to experience the music at that particular moment? Experiment! Try different bowings and fingerings for the same passage. What makes the music come alive?Remember that the phrasing and emotional impact of the music affect what techniques we use to play it successfully, so don’t decide on bowings or [...]