Posts tagged ‘Martinu’

August 26, 2012

Martinu Nonet

The Spohr Grand Nonet is a popular piece of music. It involves one of each stringed instrument (violin, viola, cello, double bass), and one of each woodwind (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon) and horn. The piece is one of those “standards” that can quite happily fill a large chunk of a concert; however, there’s often perceived to be the problem of what to play with it. Someone once collated a list of 99 pieces to go with the Spohr. This then generated a correspondence along the lines of “you missed out “, which generated another list of 99 works…

This Nonet by Martinu is one of those works for the “Grand Nonet” combination. It’s a more recent work (1959), and can be quite tricky in places but approachable in others. It needs to be studied and worked carefully, particularly if being tackled by a group containing more than a couple of people who are new to the work. It took me about eight years (of, admittedly, irregular attempts) to get the hang of it!

First movement – think of this as being in 2 rather than 4, even though the time says 4/4. It helps to keep things moving. Generally, this isn’t tricky, but there is a slightly hairy bit at around bar 170 (figure [17]):

The second movement, although it’s marked as being slow, shouldn’t be *too* slow, otherwise it will drag, you’ll lose all sense of pulse, and the thing grinds to a halt. Apart from that, nothing much to worry the bass department.

The final movement, however, is a different kettle of fish. The time signature changes every few bars:

Keep the quaver beat going in your head – this is always the same – but don’t try to count them individually!

Good luck.

November 17, 2009

Septet session

Things here have been rather quiet of late, for which I apologise.  However, this evening I have a session of string septets to go to.  The programme consists of the Strauss Metamorphosen as well as septets by Martinu and the leader of the group.

On first inspection, the Martinu doesn’t appear to be too tricky, but, having played his mixed nonet on many an occasion, this may be misleading.  I’ll write again if there are any tricky bits!  Hmm.  -1 for observation – the part says “Sextet” at the top – is it one of those optional double bass / 2nd cello things?  [Edit – turns out that it is a sextet with an optional bass part; fortunately for my sanity, the bass part is not just a follow-the-cello thing, but adds a distinct texture to the piece.]

As for the other piece…  Anyone got any suggestions about how to play passages in running octaves?  I don’t think my fingers will stretch to double-stopping this low down on the bass!  Sample below…

[Edit – the composer says that he wants the player to play the bottom line if the bass is extended, or a five string, and the top line otherwise…]