Thursday, April 22, 2010

Notes on Shostakovich Piano Concerto

The Shostakovich Concerto for Trumpet (with piano) has one of the all-time most beautiful slow movements in the repertoire. You have to love all the great trumpet stuff he gave us in this piece. The outer movements dazzle while the slow movement laments, soars and sings. This work is all about us! Enjoy.

First of all, don't dare start practicing it until you've spent a lot of time listening closely to several great recordings of the piece. You must thoroughly enjoy before you explore. Consider these:

  • See if you can write out the trumpet solo by ear.
  • Use full air supply on each breath. You will need it all. Take as few breaths as possible.
  • Find a mute that speaks well in all registers. Practice with your favorite mute on F# minor scales slurred and tongued up and down two octaves slowly. Get very comfortable going from low range to high and back. Practice higher than you'll need to.
  • Don't settle for anything out of tune or stuffy!!
  • Set your quarter note speed at approximately 72, plus or minus. Practice way slower and way faster than required. Have several comfort zones for tempo.
  • The solo is somewhat soft, so don't be a bull.
  • Use subtle rubato. Stretching is better than rushing. Avoid static metronomic playing. Play basically in time, but musically.
  • Always very legato. No bumping allowed.
  • Check often for stuffy unfocused notes. They do not belong.
  • Intonation cannot not be a problem! Watch your tuner.
  • This is classic espressivo writing. Be as artistic as the great principal woodwind players (or better!) Prove that we can do more than blast out-of-tune fanfares.
  • Not much is printed in the way of dynamics, so do as you like. Follow your instincts. General rule: the higher the louder, although you can do some nifty softer notes at the very top. Be creative.
  • Always be sure to play the line. Here's our chance to shine!

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